The road ahead: Australiaâ€™s clean technology future
National campaigns launched WA demands local jobs for local projects Book giveaway: The Short Goodbye
Manufacturing: Australia’s Future T
he AMWU has spent a large part of this year working to put manufacturing workers and their industries front and centre in the carbon price debate.
In May, our union called on the Federal Government to establish a $3.6 billion fund for low emission industry and technology development. Our union has two key goals to support manufacturing in this debate.
Australia cannot afford to miss out on our share of the $6 trillion global clean technology industry.
Our first task is to make sure that the opportunities and jobs in these new technologies will flow to Australian workers. Without clear government policy, there is a real risk that these opportunities and jobs will be lost to other countries. Our second task is to make sure that our existing industries, communities and jobs are supported as the economy adjusts. Government support for industries and companies that are currently dependant on coal is essential. There are opportunities to create jobs from technological improvements in many industries. This edition of the AMWU News looks at the auto industry which has a bright future in clean technology manufacturing thanks to a government policy which helped attract investment and create jobs. The green car innovation fund is precisely the model which should be used to create clean tech jobs in other sectors. Australia cannot afford to miss out
AMWUNews WINTER 2011 AMWU News is the official publication of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, (registered AFMEPKIU) National Office, 133 Parramatta Road, Granville, NSW, 2142.
on our share of the $6 trillion global clean technology industry. Across Australia, we have hundreds of small to medium enterprises that have developed products in the clean tech sector. These include solar and wind power, but there are many other innovative companies developing technologies which will provide real jobs. Aquagen is one such example. This company has a wave power prototype currently operating at the Lorne Pier in Victoria. Planet Innovation is another. It has developed a hot water system that uses solar heated air to heat water, making it 50% more energy efficient than conventional systems. MIGfast is a start-up company in SA which makes welding tips with superior functional and speed performance, reducing welding time, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. I could list many more. The major concern of CEOs in the clean tech sector is attracting the funding to commercialise their products. These are real jobs which we are missing out on. In the past two months, Tony Abbott has made a big deal of visiting our workplaces drumming up fear about jobs. Our union will not accept a carbon tax that compromises jobs. We have demanded significant levels of compensation to help manufacturing adjust and households afford energy cost increases. But nor will we accept
Tony Abbott’s plan to stick our heads in the sand and let the world and these new job opportunities pass us by. Tony Abbott’s actual record on jobs and manufacturing programs gives lie to his fear campaign. As a senior Howard Government minister, Abbott stood by as 100 000 manufacturing jobs were lost. He introduced workplace laws that cut people’s pay and removed their job security. He actively opposed industry policies and supported the US free trade agreement. His hypocrisy was demonstrated when he recently went to Ford Geelong to scaremonger about the carbon tax, and did not mention that his own policy was to cut $500 million out of the auto-industry program which assisted Ford to retool the very engine plant he was standing in. Protecting and creating the jobs of our members has always been the AMWU’s number one priority and it continues to be so. The AMWU is one of the few organisations in this debate which has proposed realistic solutions which address the need to lower emissions and the need to protect and create jobs. If we can deliver on these goals, Australian manufacturing has a bright future.
Dave Oliver AMWU National Secretary
Dave Oliver’s editorial.......................................................................................... 3 WA demands local jobs for local projects............................................................ 4 Skills register launched to ensure local workers get jobs..................................... 5
Editor: Dave Oliver
Australian auto’s clean technology future............................................................ 6
AMWU Communications Team: Tim Chapman, Dash Lawrence and David Gibney
Community rally secures more work for Bendigo’s Bushmasters........................ 8
Design: dcmc Design, Melbourne
Antarctic workshop develops world-first technology.......................................... 9
All information included in this publication was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change at any time. Please contact your union organiser for updates.
Vic members give generously.............................................................................10 Book giveaway: The Short Goodbye ...................................................................11
© AMWU National Office
Made in Australia by AMWU members
Manufacturing: Australia’s Future I n March the AMWU launched a national television and online campaign to put manufacturing back on the national agenda.
Angry at the government’s decision to dump the Green Car Innovation Fund earlier in the year, our union’s campaign demonstrated the importance of manufacturing and industry research and development programs. A poll commissioned by the AMWU also revealed that communities in Labor heartland seats in Victoria and South Australia were concerned about the future of Australian manufacturing. AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver, launched the campaign on Channel Ten’s Meet The Press. He said the union would campaign in these key manufacturing areas to encourage government investment in jobs and local industries. “The clear feedback from people in these electorates is that more must be done to promote and develop Australia’s manufacturing industry,” said Mr Oliver. Voters in manufacturing electorates sent a clear message to the Gillard Government: - 96% support a strong and vibrant manufacturing industry in Australia - 94% agreed it was important for the government to support local manufacturing industries - 88% were concerned about cuts to research and development in innovation and training - 77% were concerned about cuts to renewable energy programs like solar.
AMWU SA members at the Adelaide launch of the campaign
“We’re encouraging all Australians to go online and tell their local MPs that jobs in their communities matter at www.makingourfuture.com.au
Speaking at the Adelaide launch of Manufacturing: Australia’s Future, AMWU SA Secretary, John Camillo, said the campaign had received positive feedback.
“There are over one million people employed in Australian manufacturing. This is a vital growth industry and jobs in new technology areas are important to make sure Australia has a diverse economic base.”
“The messages really resonate with members here. They’ve seen the loss of too many important industries and workplaces. They know jobs and skills need government investment, the Holden Cruze being a great example.” ■
WA demands local jobs for local projects T
he AMWU has led an industry-wide campaign in Western Australia to bring more skilled jobs and apprenticeships to the state’s major resource projects.
As a part of the WA Jobs from WA Resources campaign, thousands of AMWU members rallied at State Parliament in March to demand the introduction of tougher local content laws.
Thousands of AMWU members lead a rally through Perth
Despite guarantees given by WA Premier, Colin Barnett, that ‘WA’s workshops will be full’, the bulk of manufacturing and fabrication work for major resource projects continues to be sent off shore. AMWU WA Secretary, Steve McCartney, said the State Government needed to take a long-term view. “The current boom is a once-in-a generation opportunity to provide our kids with the training and apprenticeships they need to develop new skills that will last beyond the boom,” he said. “However, this is not happening. Our engineers need to go overseas if they want to help design our major resources projects and our local workshops sit empty.” In May, the Barnett Government opposed the Labor opposition’s ‘Skilled Local Jobs Bill’, designed
to legislate on the level of local content used on major resource projects. Steve McCartney said the government was not taking the concerns of the community seriously. “We were hoping to have a real debate about how more skilled work can be secured for our major projects. Unfortunately this government seems more interested in taking the side of overseas shareholders and big miners, rather than local workers.” He said the AMWU would continue to campaign for WA Jobs from WA Resources and would hold the government to account for its decision to oppose action on local jobs. www.wajobs.org.au ■
Skills register launched to ensure local workers get jobs first T
he AMWU has launched skillsregister.com.au to give skilled workers and young people seeking apprenticeships the opportunity to register for work before employers are allowed to bring in workers on 457 visas.
AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver, said the union believed the skills shortage was overstated and successive Federal Governments had failed to deliver an adequate labourmarket testing system, which meant employers were exploiting the system. “Our union is regularly contacted by skilled workers seeking work and yet we also see employers claiming they can’t find skilled workers. “We’ve had billionaire Gina Rinehart argue that the resource sector desperately needs more skilled labour and that foreign guest workers are the answer. On the other hand, we know of companies that keep their own registers and have thousands of people on them.
“We do not deny that skills shortages exist in some areas, but they are being exaggerated by some employers seeking to use 457 visas to undermine local wages and conditions and avoid the cost of investing in apprenticeships.” Mr Oliver said with apprenticeship completion rates below 50%, the long term answer to Australia’s skills problem should not be to import workers from other countries on a temporary basis.
Employers can’t complain about skills shortages while they are dropping their investment in training.
“Employers can’t complain about skills shortages while they are dropping their investment in training. “Successive governments have failed to introduce proper labour-market testing and we are launching this register to provide employers who do apply for the visas to be given a local alternative.” The AMWU maintains that the Federal Government needs to introduce proper market testing before companies are approved to use 457 visas. Trades workers, technicians or those seeking an apprenticeship should log onto www.skillsregister.com.au ■
Adelaide members rally to support sacked 457-visa worker are bonded to the employer, they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.” He said Mr Khan’s employer was hostile towards unions and had previously been investigated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship over alleged abuses of 457 workers. He called on Federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to launch an inquiry into the sacking.
AMWU National President Paul Bastian addresses a rally in Adelaide for Mohammed Khan
MWU members in Adelaide have rallied in support of a 457-visa holder sacked for joining the union. Fijian national, Mohammed Khan, was terminated without warning from his position as a diesel mechanic at Adelaide Isuzu in March, only
days after joining the AMWU. In April, AMWU National President, Paul Bastian, told a 60-strong rally that Mr Khan was the victim of a flawed 457-visa scheme. “Workers on temporary visas are afforded the same rights as any Australian worker, but because they
“If breaches are substantiated, the department should immediately prohibit Capem Group (Adelaide Isuzu’s parent company) from engaging any further 457 visa holders.
aggressive he had encountered. “Never before have I been physically and verbally attacked by a boss. If they behave like that to someone they don’t know - I can only imagine what they do to their workers.” Mr Khan thanked the members for their support and said he hoped to achieve reinstatement. “I want to deeply thank everyone for their support. This has been a very stressful period. “I have been a good worker, an honest and diligent worker for this company,” he said.
“Mohammed Kahn is not a commodity for a company to treat as it wishes,” Mr Bastian said.
“I cannot understand why someone can be dismissed just for joining the union.”
“He’s a human being, he’s a fellow worker, and with that comes rights, fundamental human rights.”
The AMWU will pursue the unlawful sacking of Mohammad Khan in the Federal Magistrates Court. A trial date will be set once a directions hearing has been heard on August 23. ■
AMWU SA organiser, Brendon Patchett, said the company was the most
Australian auto’s clean technology future
Holden workers at the launch of the Australian made Cruze in February
he birth of the Australian automotive industry is a story neither widely known nor told.
It’s about a manufacturer who thought innovatively and persisted with his plans despite early setbacks. A man who believed there was a better way for Australians to drive. His name was Harley Tarrent and in August 1879 he began an experiment from his small workshop in Post Office Place, Port Melbourne. Dissatisfied with steam-driven machines, the then popular model for the automobile, he patented an engine powered by kerosene, a fuel he believed to be safer, cheap and readily available. Tarrent’s first car was a failure. But his determination paid off, when, four years later, he released the first Australian-made, petrol-driven car. Business boomed and an industry was born. Over a century later and the one man Tarrent show has evolved to become an employer of 200 000 Australians from assembly lines, to component makers, to retail dealerships. In that time, much has changed 6
for the automotive industry and the wider economy. But Tarrent’s spirit of innovation has remained. With petrol no longer as cheap, readily available (global oil shortages) and safe (for the environment), Australian automakers have headed in a new direction - one that will redefine the industry and ensure a new generation of workers can continue to make cars in Australia long into the future. The new direction, according to AMWU National Vehicle Division Secretary, Ian Jones, came just prior to the global financial crisis. “Car manufacturers in Australia and globally started to recognise the importance of fuel efficiency. It was instigated by a practical need rather than a philosophical commitment to the environment; the market wanted more fuel efficient vehicles.” Australian cars, with their traditionally large, fuel guzzler engines – needed to adapt to the rising cost of petrol. Mr Jones says since that point all companies have moved significantly forward. “Ford offered the Falcoln LPG
and began production of the EcoBoost and the Diesel Territory. GM created their four cylinder Cruze and have just announced their light-weight fuel efficient Commodore, with the potential for a hybrid version as they go to stage three. Toyota’s record just speaks for itself. They created the hybrid and moved to alternative fuels very quickly. “In a short space of time, our companies have made some giant leaps.” He credits the industry overhaul and new trajectory on the Federal Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund (controversially culled early this year). “None of it would have happened without a Federal Government who was interested in changing the nature of automotive manufacturing in this country. “Without a Minister like Kim Carr, to be frank, none of this would have occurred. It was an act of genius.” It is a view shared by veteran motoring reporter and publisher of GoAutoNews John Mellor. “There’s no doubt the fund reinvigorated the automotive
industry. It gave companies the capacity to innovate and reinvest in their operations in Australia. “It certainly has enabled Holden and Ford to really develop a low emission, alternative fuels plan. In particular, I think Holden is in a very good position now – setting themselves up with a smaller Cruze and the introduction of Commodores that can run on 85% ethanol.” At the peak of the Green Car Innovation Fund, in September 2009, industry auditors Deloitte released a market report into the Australian automotive industry. Accelerating toward 2020 - An automotive industry transformed, mapped the future domestic and global car market. Most significant amongst its findings was that by 2020, electric vehicles and other low emission cars would represent up to a third of total global sales in developed markets and up to 20% in urban areas of emerging markets. The Australian automotive sector had made the right decision to enter the low emission sector, Deloitte Manufacturing partner Damon Cantwell said at the release of the report. “Australia needs to be careful it does not lag behind other markets but takes the initiative and focuses on niche export opportunities as emerging markets that start to demand more luxury vehicles where more complex skill sets are needed in the workforce.” “The introduction of hybrid production models are a crucial bridge that keeps Australia in the game,” he said. John Mellor believes the notion of Australian car companies capturing niche opportunities is not impossible. “Holden has already suggested it could go on to build the local version of the Chevrolet Volt. This is an electric car that is backed up by a petrol engine. Theoretically you could drive from Melbourne to Perth without recharging. “So this has successfully put them in quite a few camps. They’ve embraced ethanol with Commodore and potentially the medium car Cruze and they’re working towards their entry into the electric car camp.”
The new low-emission, clean direction taken by the car companies has had a positive impact on the shop floor. At Holden’s Elizabeth plant the mood amongst workers significantly improved after full production returned at the start of the year, says AMWU senior delegate, Heinz Joham. “The Cruze had a positive impact - it’s brought in jobs. And you can see that our members are happier. The Commodore brand is still strong and so with the Cruze taking off, there is a sense that we are back on track. “The members know that things can change quickly. But we see the low emission Cruze as a good market for Holden to be moving into. With petrol prices going the way they are, we needed to become cleaner and more fuel efficient.” Toyota, the other major beneficiary of the Green Car Innovation Fund, has publically stated its commitment towards the production of environmentally sustainable cars in Australia. In September of last year, it announced a new fuel efficient, more environmentally sustainable engine for Camry and hybrid Camry sedans would be manufactured out of their Altona plant, with 100 000 engines to be
There’s no doubt the fund reinvigorated the automotive industry. It gave companies the capacity to innovate and reinvest in their operations in Australia.
produced each year commencing in the later half of 2012. Toyota Australia CEO and President, Max Yasuda, acknowledged the government wanted to see new, more environmentally friendly technologies introduced in Australia. “The support provided by the Federal Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund and the Victorian Government was a major factor in this project proceeding. A partnership between local car makers, the government and suppliers is fundamental for ensuring we evolve our industry to deal with the challenges of a carbon constrained world,” he said. The announcement of the new engine, together with the 2010 launch of Australia’s first locally built hybrid - the hybrid Camry - has consolidated job security for workers at the Altona plant according to AMWU senior delegate, Charlie Marmara. “We’re on fire here. We’ve had a bit of a downturn since the Tsunami (in Japan), but we’re producing tens of thousands of cars each year and we’ve got major export contracts to the Middle East.” “Our members would like to see the hybrid kick off, the company promoted it a lot internally. We realise that sooner or later the petrol is going to run out – we need to go towards a green car. But it needs to be sold better – not enough people know about it.” Although he doubts production of the hybrid engine will overtake petrol ones, Mr Marmara believes there is a place for Toyota’s green car plan in the long term. “At the end of the day, everyone knows that’s the direction we need to go (low-emission, clean technology cars). They may not take off this year, not in five years, not in ten years, but at Toyota if we can get up and onboard with electric and hybrids before everyone else, we’ll be better for it.” Whilst industry experts continue to predict a challenging future for Australian component manufacturers, SMR Automotive is proving that innovation is the key to driving new products and jobs. Located in Londsdale, South
They may not take off this year, not in five years, not in ten years, but at Toyota if we can get up and onboard with electric and hybrids before everyone else, we’ll be better for it.
Toyota worker assembles the Camry hybrid
Australia, SMR was awarded $2.4 million from the Green Car Innovation Fund, which it used to develop light weight rear-view mirrors. The new mirrors will provide a reduction in mass compared to current mirrors used on the market, leading to reduced carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles fitted with the new technology. The company produces automotive components for domestic and international markets, with 78% of its products exported to the US, Europe and Asia. Once established, the new lightweight mirrors are expected to occupy around 8% of the market globally. With companies such as SMR embracing energy efficient products for export markets, John Mellor believes it is possible for Australian auto component makers to remain competitive in the long term. “Their challenge is to be innovative in product design. To manufacture to new standards of quality and cost - if they’re going to meet the competition from parts manufacturers in China and India, they will need to be innovative in design, quality and cost. “Our component makers have a track record in that area, so there is no reason why they can’t export where the volumes are going to
grow substantially.” For Ian Jones, it has been a remarkable transformation for a sector that was in the midst of an existential crisis less than five years ago. “We do great things in Australia, with limited resources. There are always conservatives that want to dump on car manufacturing. But I think the last few years, our industry has demonstrated how far we’ve come and what is still possible.” He says Australian car companies could not afford to miss the opportunities that a low-emission, clean market presented. “Our members are in touch with global automotive manufacturing. They know that if their company is to be around in the future, they won’t be building cars that are reliant on fossil fuels. “Electricity is as clean as you’ll get. But we’ve also got an abundance of alternative fuels here in Australia. They’re cheap and they produce very little emissions. “Once we’ve moved all the older cars off the road and a new generation of clean, Australian made vehicles are driving around… then it will be the farting cows who add more pollution to the atmosphere than we do.” Something even Harley Tarrent wouldn’t have predicted. ■ AMWUNEWS
Tech workers stand up to company over threat to conditions A MWU members at technology company NEC in Mulgrave, Victoria have successfully maintained their workplace conditions despite a company attack.
Last year, NEC management attempted to water down conditions during bargaining on a collective agreement. Delegates from neighbouring workplaces offered their moral support to the NEC membership who campaigned to reject the company’s offer.
with,” Mr Miller said. According to AMWU National Industrial Officer, Darren Hanisch, the success of the campaign was down to a strong collective effort. “It was great to see these workers realise the power of collective action. The union members (also from the NUW, ASU and ETU) here stuck together. The solidarity shown by neighbouring AMWU members was terrific.
NEC members celebrate their win with organiser Dave Vroland (far left)
Site delegates, Brian Miller and Matthew White, said the members were proud to have fought off the company’s move to undermine their conditions.
“I think they recognised that having important dispute resolution mechanisms taken away was not in their interests. They started to question why the company was doing it,” Mr White said.
“Less than half the workforce are union members, so it was always going to be tough. But in the end, the workers voted down NEC’s original offer.
With the assistance of employer representatives, the Australian Industry Group (AIG), NEC’s management had attempted to alter
long-standing consultation procedures and dispute resolution mechanisms. They also sought to take away a clause allowing workers to be paid outstanding sick leave on resignation. “We just wanted to get the agreement back to the way it was. AIG took the opportunity to water down our conditions. But we held them off. Now we’ve got an agreement we’re all happy
“Our members were able to communicate to their colleagues that they were potentially giving away their rights.” With a new union collective agreement now signed, site organiser Dave Vroland, said the workers could look forward to a better future. “They’ve now got an agreement that will allow them to be truly represented by their union. It gives them security and protection.” ■
Community rally secures more work for Bendigo’s Bushmaster
he AMWU has welcomed an announcement by Defence Minister Stephen Smith that 101 Bendigo Bushmasters have been ordered for deployment in Afghanistan.
AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver said the purchase would provide security for hundreds of regional Victorian jobs and make Aussie troops safer. “It’s great news for those workers who manufacture the important, life-saving personnel carrier that is the Bushmaster. It represents a vote of confidence in their world class skills and will no doubt be welcomed by the troops themselves.” The union, which represents the 300 Thales workers who make the Bushmaster in Bendigo, has been at the forefront of a campaign to keep Aussie army vehicles made locally. In April, it organised a severalhundred strong community rally through Bendigo urging the Department of Defence to provide new contracts to Thales Australia. Dave Oliver said, this is a 8
April’s community rally to save Bendigo’s Bushmaster
significant step forward in the AMWU’s campaign. “We now call on the Defence Minister to award the contract for the next generation of army utilities (LAN 121) to Thales.” The AMWU understands the latest Bushmaster contract will provide
an additional 12 months of work for the Bendigo plant. Should the LAN 121 contract be awarded to Thales, the future of the plant will be secured for a further two years. Mr Oliver said the union would continue the campaign to ensure the Federal Government supports local defence manufacturing.
“Australia may not be a big player in defence manufacturing, but what we make is internationally respected. The Bushmaster is proof of that. We hope our Defence Department recognises that you can’t compromise on quality. “What is good for our economy is also good for our troops.” ■
Antarctic workshop develops world-first technology
MWU members in Tasmania are developing world-first equipment to guarantee power supply to Australia’s Antarctic research stations. Design and maintenance workers from Australian Antarctic Division’s workshops in Hobart have begun work on a refuelling system that will allow oil to be pumped over eight kilometers from supply ships to the remote Davis Station. Draughtsman and AMWU site delegate, Brett Gogoll, said the technology was just one of a number of innovative projects developed by the team. “We’re constantly having to come up with modifications and solutions for the very unique environment of Antarctica. The oil hose is probably one of the most challenging yet. We’ve looked everywhere, but no one else is making them.” In recent years, sea ice – sometimes stretching up to nearly eight kilometers out from the shore – has blocked supply ship access to Davis Station (2250 nautical miles south-south west of Perth, the most southerly of all the research stations). It has proved costly and dangerous for the Division. “All the stations are powered by diesel generators and they can hold up to
900 000 litres of oil per station. But if they weren’t able to replenish their stocks and power went out, the expeditioners would die very quickly,” Mr Gogoll said. The electrical, marine science and mechanical workshops manufacture all equipment with the sensitive Antarctic environment in mind. “The last thing we need is for the hose to break and thousands of litres of oil to flood the ocean. In everything we do, we have to be vary mindful of how the equipment will interact with the environment.“ In recent years, the workshops have developed a diverse range of equipment and appliances; from satellite tracking systems for whales and seals, outdoor video cameras that capture penguin colony activity to sleds and larger snow vehicles. “The research teams in the Antarctic are at the forefront of climate research. We support them through making and modifying the equipment and tools they need to do that job,” he said. “At various points, management have tried to shut the workshops down. We’re doing work that virtually no one else in the world can replicate. Sometimes I think they forget how much money we save the taxpayer.” In June, the AMWU will begin negotiating a new union collective
AMWU members in the Antarctic workshop showcase their work
agreement for the workers. AMWU
equipped and functioning.
Tasmanian Secretary, John Short, said
“The AMWU will negotiate to ensure
it was time for an improved deal.
they are given the capacity to carry on
“There is no doubt the expertise and
that excellent work through improved
skills of the workers at the Division are
pay and conditions. We want to see
undervalued. They play an essential
them thrive long into the future; it
role in keeping the research stations
really is an important workshop.” ■
RMD members carry on with activism I
t’s been another busy year of activism for the Retired Members Division (RMD). The RMD National Conference held in April established a new strategy for the future of the Division. Much time has been directed towards the Division’s role within the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition. This group has brought together Ethnic Communities’ Council Victoria and the Council on the Ageing (Victoria and New South Wales) with the long-term aim of lifting the pension rate.
National President Frank Cherry met with independent Federal Members Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie and Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. The delegation presented the case for an increase in the pension rate and called for the members to take the issue to the Prime Minister and Treasurer. In order to continue the campaign the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition, will meet with the ACTU to seek the creation of a national retired union members’ organisation. The organisation
would be capable of increasing retired member activity and building on campaigns such as the rise in the pension rate. The RMD has also become involved with a group called Green Sages. The group is sponsored by the Council on the Ageing and is directed towards senior activism in environmental issues. After 16 years as RMD Victorian State Secretary, Jack Brown has retired. Jack joined the AMWU in 1943 and held positions within the union since the 1960s. Mr Cherry said his knowledge and experience
would be greatly missed – although he will continue as a member of the RMD Executive. Finally, South Australian RMD members are advised that the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition will be holding a forum on the theme of ‘Ageing Safely in Your Home’, 10am, Tuesday 9 August. The Forum, will also include an address by the Minister for Ageing, The Hon. Mark Butler MP. To attend, contact the Council on the Ageing by July 15 on 8232 0422. ■ AMWUNEWS
Victorian members give generously to Easter Appeal
MWU members at the Wonthaggi desalination plant in Victoria have raised $20 000 for the Royal Children’s Hospital annual Good Friday Appeal.
Surf Life Saving Club.” Members voted unanimously to spread the fund wider and give to the Good Friday Appeal. Mr Mansour said it was a cause close to his heart.
The donation was formally presented to the Hospital at Etihad Stadium on Good Friday.
“My daughter has been diagnosed with liver problems. We’ve been in and out of the Children’s Hospital many times. I’ve seen the great work that they do.”
Site delegate, Steve Mansour, said the money was a result of a 300 strong, AMWU member fundraising collective.
He encouraged AMWU members to consider starting up their own fundraising initiatives.
“We started with only a dozen workers – putting $20 aside at the end of every week. We raised $8 000 for a special school in Wonthaggi, to buy important equipment. From there our numbers grew. Now there are 300 of us.”
“Start off with a small amount of money. Even if it’s just $2. If every member does that you can make a difference.
The group has already raised $60 000. Most of which has gone to the local Wonthaggi/Phillip Island community.
Steve Mansour with AMWU Victoria Secretary Steve Dargavel (centre)
“Our delegates go into the community and ask what is needed locally. “We’ve donated to high schools, primary schools, kindergartens and
the Vietnam Vets Club. We’ve helped out families who need money for books for school and last year we raised $19 000 for the
“I hope people understand and recognise that unions are a part of this community. We are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. We want the best for everyone too.” ■
Federal budget delivers new apprentice program the rollout of mentoring will commence in the second half of 2011. Mr Dettmer said the funding injection was important but industries outside of manufacturing also needed to demonstrate a commitment to helping apprentices through training. “Here in Queensland, construction apprenticeships dropped 30% from 2007 to 2010. “After spending four years guiding a worker through their apprenticeship, some manufacturing employers feel betrayed when that worker leaves to pursue the larger salaries that construction can offer. But if there are enough apprentices and tradespeople going round, that can be minimised.” Mr Dettmer said the AMWU last year tabled a proposal to key construction industry figures asking the industry to shoulder its share of the training of young Queenslanders.
The new program aims to increase apprenticeship completion rates
killed apprentices in manufacturing will receive more mentoring and have their training expedited after a Federal Government commitment of $201 million in the May budget. The AMWU, which has long called for the introduction of reforms to the apprentice sector, said the announcement was a positive move.
“This will go some way towards redressing the seriously low number of apprentice completion rates that has emerged in recent years,” AMWU Queensland Secretary Andrew Dettmer said. “We know that apprentices who are supported and mentored are more likely to stay with their trade, than those who are left to fend for themselves. “It’s also important to recognise that apprentices who have demonstrated competencies in their trade should be
able to progress. The government’s funding will allow for that.” Under the government’s plan, funding will be spent supporting apprentice candidates in choosing the right trade and providing targeted mentoring and assistance that will help them successfully progress through their apprenticeship. Training providers and peak industry groups capable of delivering mentoring services will be provided with the opportunity to access funds under the program. It is expected that
“We’re now starting to see action on those proposals. We’ve met with both the Queensland State Government and the construction industry and changes could soon be afoot. “These are important developments. We’re expecting to see demand for over 25 000 extra skilled tradespeople to handle major project infrastructure in Queensland in the near future. We won’t be able to meet that demand unless we see reforms to the sector, and the construction industry trains more apprentices,” he said. ■
The Short Goodbye by Elisabeth Wynhausen
n 2010, former Prime Minister, John Howard, described the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) as a regional crisis from which Australia was always immune. His one-time Minister for Employment, Joe Hockey, coined the phrase ‘the recession we never had’. To the conservative side of politics, there was nothing really to worry about. The view from Sydney’s north shore was pretty good. But to veteran journalist Elisabeth Wynhausen and tens of thousands of manufacturing workers - the GFC was very real. It was the crisis that cost them their jobs. It was the crash that swallowed up hundreds of millions of dollars from their retirement funds and denied
them redundancy entitlements after loyal years of service. The Short Goodbye is an insightful and personal look at Australia’s GFC. It begins with a powerful anecdote. At her desk writing an article for The Australian about manufacturing lay-offs in the western suburbs of Sydney, Wynhausen is summoned to the HR office to be sacked herself. A bitter irony, that shapes this 204-page journey into the lives of ordinary Australians who were changed immeasurably by the events of 2008 and 2009. The GFC may have ended a career with The Australian but it also gave Wynhausen the freedom to let those ordinary Australians tell their side of the story. The reader is all the better for it. We meet Sydney aluminium
manufacturers Gary and Jason. With their secure, permanent jobs gone thanks to the crash, they’re consigned to scrapping for haphazard labour hire employment. They become tangled in a web of job agencies and training providers. Their stories are as affecting as the dispirited workers of Waratah Engineering in Newcastle. A company whose CEO continued to draw a fat salary whilst entitlements were whittled away to a pittance. These are real stories of everyday Australians too quickly forgotten and cast aside. In the wake of the GFC, many books and opinion pieces have been written about its causes and affects. The numbers, policies and timelines have become commonplace. Leaving those who suffered the most largely silent.
Of all the books written about how Australia fared in the GFC, no other has told of the cost on workers’ lives and their families. This is a worthy start. ■ AMWU has 50 copies of the Short Goodbye please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address and membership number or mail AMWU News 2nd Floor 251 Queensberry Street Carlton South Victoria 3053
Korean unionist warns of ‘casualisation cancer’
visiting Korean unionist has warned AMWU members that international moves towards casual labour in the auto industry could spread to Australia. General Secretary of the Korean Transport Workers’ Union, Dal Sik Kim, visited Australia in February and March to update AMWU delegates on the three year struggle of GM Daewoo workers to gain reinstatement after being sacked for union activity. Mr Kim told around 100 assembled AMWU members from the auto industry that GM Daewoo in South Korea had introduced a casual, non-union workforce at a cost of hundreds of permanent jobs. “Casualisation is a serious problem for workers, not only in South Korea but all around the world. Like a cancer it’s spreading everywhere. “We want to end casualisation and we want reinstatement for our workers.
Dal Sik Kim addresses AMWU members in Melbourne
“I am here in Australia to say ‘we must work together to fight casualisation’. One day workers in Australia may suffer the same fate as our workers in Korea, where up to 70% of all workers are engaged casually,” he said.
that we don’t think it’s acceptable to treat workers in that way. As a multinational company they might run things differently in other countries but the Korean workers should have the same rights we have,” Mr Gouvousis said.
GM Holden delegate Nick Gouvousis was one of many members shocked to learn of the plight of the Daewoo auto workers, who are members of the Korean Metals Workers Union (KMWU).
AMWU Assistant National Secretary, Glenn Thompson, said the trip, co-sponsored by the AMWU and MUA in cooperation with the Southern Initiative Global Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR), was an important show of solidarity to the Daewoo workers.
“It was quite disturbing to hear his stories. When you hear about the experiences of workers being exploited it’s hard to think we work under the same banner (GM). “I think it’s important that we let our company know
“The AMWU is committed to supporting casual workers around the world. We believe global transnational corporations like GM Daewoo need to
treat workers with respect. “Above all, they need to genuinely uphold the principle to freely organise and have the KMWU recognised. That hasn’t happened to these workers, who are still fighting for their jobs and union representation. Comrade Kim will continue to update us on their situation.” For more information on the plight of GM Daewoo workers http://sigtur.com/index. php/home-mainmenu-1/143-gm-daewoo or sign up to an online petition supporting the workers http://www.gopetition.com/ petition/42024.html ■ AMWUNEWS
Custom Coaches, SA
’m a Boilermaker. I build, repair and modify buses.
I’ve worked here for two years, but have only recently become a delegate. All my working life I’ve been a union member - with the NUW and the MUA. Coming here I saw a different culture. I saw things happening that weren’t fair and reasonable and I wanted to get things done. When I got elected to the position of senior delegate I put out flyers highlighting the issues at the workplace, such as health and safety. I wanted to let our members know what I stood for, what I believed in and what I wanted us to improve. We’ve had results with everything we’ve tackled so far. We’ve had around 20 guys who were entitled to an allowance for working with a hazardous material. They were working with fibre-glass but they weren’t getting their allowance. We sorted that out. That’s been our biggest win so far. I’ve taken to our enterprise agreement like a bull to a red flag. We’ve just begun negotiations on a new one and there are plenty of clauses we want to change. In particular we want to work with the company to convert casual employment into permanency. I know I’m not going to get any Christmas cards from management but that’s never been a part of my agenda. I just want a fair working environment for all. ■
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