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ISSUE 2 2008 $4.50 (INC GST)

Global gossip Unions & the new communication

Easy riders Harley-Davidson meets the outlaws

Stitch ‘n’ Bitch It’s happening at a pub near you!

PLUS Oz music in the ’90s Health yourself – it’s up to you! Divided nation – the Olympic controversy A Turkish-Australian’s view of the ANZAC legend Adelaide for kids Warming winter cookery

Trouble in paradise AWU members AID flood-bound mackay

ISBN 978-186396379-4


06

contents Issue 2 – 2008

Features

06 HIGH TIDE IN MACKAY

Cate Carrigan reports on the aftermath of the Mackay floods.

11 hEALTH YOURSELF

Melissa Sweet reveals how looking after yourself now may help to offset the risk of chronic illness later in life.

14 tribute to an old mate

Why was Labor legend Clyde Cameron nicknamed “Shithouse”? Michael Blayney finds out!

16 the party is over

Bob Ellis ponders the fractured future of the Liberal Party.

19 we will remember them

22

How did a young Turkish-Australian woman feel about the ANZAC legend as she was growing up in Sydney? Dilvin Yasa shares her experiences.

22 COLD WAR GAMES

Michael Blayney talks to former swimming great Lisa Forrest about her new book Boycott, which recounts the national divide over the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

26 be our guest

Jeremy Vermeesch investigates so-called “guest workers”.

30 easy riders

30

Boris Mihailovic continues to explore the colourful history of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

34 global gossip

Unions have logged on to the web’s new social networking sites with great success. Aidan Ormond takes a look.

38 ’90s mix... name your brand

 lenn A Baker, Australia’s human music encyclopaedia, G reviews Oz music back in the 1990s.

42 crafty wenches

42

Do you like to stitch? Do you like to bitch? Join Julia Richardson as she casts on with the gals at the local.

46 Kidding Around

Jayne D’Arcy checks out some family activities in Adelaide.

50 Go on... make a pig of yourself!

 elissa Sweet discovers that if you want a happy, healthy M life then you should take some tips from Petal the pig!

Regulars P04 National Opinion P48 Cookery p52 Meet the Delegates/ Officials P54 Frontline News P65 Kids P66 Grumpy Bastard PRIVACY NOTICE This issue of The Australian Worker may contain offers, competitions, or surveys which require you to provide information about yourself if you choose to enter or take part in them (Reader Offer). If you provide information about yourself to ACP Magazines Ltd (ACP), ACP wil use this information to provide you with the products or services you have requested, and may supply your information to contractors that help ACP to do this. ACP wil also use your information to inform you of other ACP publications, products, services and events. ACP may also give your information to organisations that are providing special prizes or offers and that are clearly associated with the Reader Offer. Unless you tell us not to, we may give your information to other organisations that may use it to inform you about other products, services or events or to give to other organisations that may use it for this purpose. If you would like to gain access to the information ACP holds about you, please contact ACP’s Privacy Officer at ACP Magazines Ltd, 54-58 Park Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000. Cover photo: Sonia Ball, The Daily Mercury

www.awu.net.au

AWU

Editor Paul Howes, AWU National Secretary AWU NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS CO-ORDINATOR Andrew Casey AWU NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER Henry Armstrong Address Level 10, 377-383 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000 e:worker@awu.net.au www.awu.net.au Telephone (02) 8005 3333 Facsimile (02) 8005 3300

ACP Magazines Ltd Publishing

Editor Kyle Rankin Art Director Wayne Allen DESIGNER Helen MacDougall Sub-Editors Graham Lauren and Matt Johnson Production Services Kate Fox prepress supervisor Klaus Müller Chief Executive Officer – ACP magazines Scott Lorson Group Publisher Phil Scott Associate Publisher Gerry Reynolds Group Sales Director – Men’s & Specialist Titles Louise Barrett Publishing Manager Nicola O’Hanlon Published for The Australian Workers’ Union (ABN 28 853 022 982) by ACP Magazines Ltd (ACN 18 053 273 546), 54-58 Park St, Sydney NSW 2000. © 2008. All rights reserved. Printed by PMP, Clayton, Vic 3168 and cover printed by Energi Print, Murrumbeena, Vic 3163. Distributed by Network Services 54 Park Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. Articles published in The Australian Worker express the opinion of the authors and not necessarily ACP Magazines Ltd. While all efforts have been made to ensure prices and details are correct at time of printing, these are subject to change.

theaustralianworker 3


w

national opinion

STRONGER TOGETHER

Authorised by Bill Shorten, National Secretary, AWU

Support health workers

T

AWU leaders

Russ Collison Greater NSW Branch Secretary

4 theaustralianworker

Bill Ludwig National President Queensland Branch Secretary

As we move closer to negotiations, we will continue to brief delegates and will soon be preparing and circulating a log of claims for operational staff throughout Queensland. Of particular emphasis for the new collective agreement is securing improved outcomes for staff training, career progression and addressing increasing workloads. AWU members will also be demanding that the Queensland Government commits to maintaining public sector employment for both existing and new staff throughout all State Government-run facilities. Overall, the aim of the campaign is a simple one. In sufficiently resourcing staff in all areas of operational services in Queensland public hospitals, our members will be equipped to deliver the best quality service, with the best possible conditions, regardless of the job that they do. However, as with all campaigns, our success in obtaining the best possible result for our members at the bargaining table rests on their resolve to stand collectively with each other as well as the Union. Our proud history indicates that regardless of industry or role performed, the best industrial outcomes are those that are achieved by the collective will and efforts of many.

“...our success in obtaining the best possible result for our members at the bargaining table rests on their resolve to stand collectively...”

Kevin Maher Newcastle Branch Secretary

Photo getty images

he public health industry remains one of the AWU’s largest and most diverse areas of coverage in Queensland. However, like the rest of the public health sector throughout Australia, it is an area fraught with difficulty. This is largely owing to the ever-present threat of privatisation, which has the potential to dramatically undermine conditions that the Union has campaigned hard to secure. With those challenges in mind, the Queensland Branch moves toward the next round of enterprise bargaining negotiations for operational staff within Queensland Health. The AWU is the sole union with coverage of operational staff within the state, which includes workers such as ward services officers, food services staff and operational technicians. With the current collective agreement expiring in September 2008, the Union recently invited 100 Queensland Health delegates and officials from across Queensland to a two-day conference. This marked the official start of the Queensland Health Collective Bargaining Campaign 2008. The industry conference was the first of its kind to be held by the Union in Queensland and was attended by Queensland Branch President Garry Ryan and myself. Both Garry and I were humbled by the large turnout of health delegates at the conference, without whose vital contribution the health system could not survive.

Andy Gillespie Port Kembla Branch Secretary

Cesar Melhem Victorian Branch Secretary

www.awu.net.au


2020 vision for the future

Y

our Union is committed to looking to the future, both, for our members and for the nation. Since becoming National Secretary I have been working with our members across the country not only to fight for a fair go at work, but to also ensure that working people in this country will have a better and secure future. I was proud to be invited to the Rudd Labor Government’s 2020 Summit. It was an opportunity for our Union to contribute towards shaping a strategy for the nation’s future. The summit was an admirable move by a government that is committed to looking beyond the three year electoral cycle. As a member of the Future Directions for Rural Industries and Rural Communities steering committee we discussed developing strategies for ‘food security and future sustainability and productivity of remote, rural and regional Australia’. Two of the challenges, of particular importance, were building on the strengths and contributions of our remote, rural and regional communities and the development of efficient infrastructure and services in these communities. Strong ideas came from the steering committee; although I was surprised to find little mentioned about Australia after the resources boom. It is clear that Australia’s strong economic position is driven by the resource

Wayne Hanson Greater SA Branch Secretary

www.awu.net.au

Graham Hall Whyalla Branch Secretary

Paul Howes National Secretary

“I would like to encourage our members to provide the Union with their feedback and insight into the Union’s future.”

boom. While the United States economy struggles to rebound from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Australia is continuing to bound ahead as China’s demand for our resources increases. But what will happen when this resource boom winds down? We will be urging the Rudd Government to consider how they will harness the current economic prosperity to ensure Australia’s economic security in the future. We are a strong, proud Union and we want to ensure that, post-resource boom, we have a country that we can be proud of. Not just a sandpit for China and a tourism resort for North Asia. We want to secure a country that manufactures services and products that it can be proud of. The AWU will encourage the Rudd Government to invest some of our current prosperity in remote, rural and regional communities making them viable locations for new and existing business operations. These operations, with their services and products, will provide jobs for our members, their families and future generations to come. That is the future that the AWU is committed to working towards. Although not perfect, the 2020 Summit was an important initiative in leadership that finds its vision from the contribution of the people. In a similar fashion I would like to encourage our members to provide the Union with their feedback and insight into the Union’s future. Whether it be a comment on features in this magazine, stories of unfair treatment in the workplace or a warming letter about a fellow member’s efforts, I encourage our members to write or email us. To support this we are reinstating the letters page in future issues of The Australian Worker. This page will allow our Union to publish letters from members for the attention of other members. Post your letters to: The Editor, The Australian Worker, Level 10, 377-383 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Or email them to: worker@awu.net.au

Tim Daly West Australian Branch Secretary

Ian Wakefield Tasmanian Branch Secretary

Norman McBride Tobacco Branch Secretary

theaustralianworker 5


QLD floods

high tide in Mackay

Some reckon it is 90 years since Mackay had last seen a downpour anything like it received in February this year. But disaster struck and local AWU members rallied to help all those who needed assistance.

“Mackay had received 625mm of rain in just 10 hours, 2000 homes would soon be inundated and flash flooding was causing serious problems.” 6 theaustralianworker

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WRITTEN BY cate carrigan Photos sonia ball/tony martin/amanda balmer/the daily mercury

hen Aaron Riddle woke up on February 15 in the midst of the biggest downpour to hit the north Queensland coastal town of Mackay in 90 years, he didn’t think twice about leaving his wife, Anne-Marie, and four children, picking up his workmate and his council truck and heading for one of the worst-hit areas of town. Mackay had received 625mm of rain in just 10 hours, 2000 homes would soon be inundated and flash flooding was causing serious problems. At the prestige housing estate of Valetta Gardens, Aaron and his fellow Mackay Council

worker Matt Hillier found people on roofs and the balconies of two-storey buildings. Aaron drove through windscreen-high water while Matt helped people climb on the back. “I shouldn’t have taken the truck in there but there weren’t enough boats and people had to get out,” Aaron said. Among those they rescued were a couple with four children who had been wading through water. As there weren’t any evacuation centres set up yet – they were established later in the day – Aaron took them to his house, situated on a hill and away from the water. Picking up between a dozen and 20 at a time, including a group of police and SES volunteers, www.awu.net.au


Floodwaters along Malcomson Street in north Mackay after torrential rain hit on 15 February 2008.

Matthew Hillier (left) and Aaron Riddle (right) worked tirelessly to help those who were most affected by the flood.

This photo was taken on the morning of February 15 during the height of the downpour.

the two worked throughout the day until a change of tide saw the water draining away. At night, they delivered blankets and nappies to the evacuation centres. Now, two months after the floods, council staffs are still working six days a week to repair the damage to roads, drains and public facilities. Aaron Riddle pays special tribute to his fellow workers who risked their own lives to help people that day: Matt Hillier, Jacko McCarthy, Rowan Farinbella, Greg McConville and Trevor Lorenz. The General Manager of Engineering Services with Mackay Regional Council, Stuart Holley, has paid tribute to Aaron and his mates for the efforts they put in on the day. www.awu.net.au

Stuart, who was Executive Officer of the Disaster Coordination Centre, says the response from every council worker was tremendous and testament to the dedication and commitment they have to their community. “Some even left their own inundated homes to provide assistance, while others refused to go home until the job was finished. “Putting the community ahead of your own home and family typifies the spirit of these council workers.” Stuart says staff were rotated to ensure the Coordination Centre – which handled more then 2500 calls over a four day period – was operating 24 hours a day. 

“Some even left their own inundated homes to provide assistance… putting the community ahead of your own home and family typifies the spirit of these council workers.” theaustralianworker 7


QLD floods

“It’s very frustrating waiting for things to happen, especially coming home to a mess downstairs and the smell of mildew.”

Lisa’s story

Lisa Harrison

Lisa Harrison woke up around 6am

“It’s very frustrating just waiting for things to happen, especially coming

to find two feet of water outside her

home to a mess downstairs and the

South Mackay home.

smell of mildew.”

Two hours later, her garage and shed

Lisa says her AWU members have

were awash and it was coming up through

been happy with the assistance they

the floorboards into the living area.

have received through the government

The AWU Organiser knew she was on

and haven’t sought additional help,

her own so she got her 78-year-old mother

even though some were hard hit.

to climb onto a bed, together with her cat

“One of my members, a single mother

and dog. Luckily, a change in tide in the

and waiting for insurance to replace fridges,

with two kids, had to leave home when

afternoon saw the water start to abate.

dryers and water-damaged furniture, and to

her place was completely flooded out,”

have her wooden floors redone.

she says.

Lisa’s still in the process of cleaning up

AWU on the spot AWU National President Bill Ludwig and National Secretary Paul Howes visited Mackay to thank AWU members at Mackay Regional Council for the incredible work they did in restoring Mackay’s essential services. “There were real heroes among our members during this crisis. These AWU heroes went the extra mile to make sure their community and their families could overcome the devastation and were safe and comfortable,” AWU National Secretary Paul Howes said. “The Union will be making sure that Mackay Regional Council remembers this important service by our people when it comes to negotiating the upcoming enterprise agreement,” AWU National President Bill Ludwig said.

8 theaustralianworker

Paul Howes (left),Bill Ludwig (behind among the AWU troops) and AWU Mackay Union official Darryl Rankin (right) thank Mackay Regional Council workers for their efforts during the February floods.

www.awu.net.au


Left: The flood was relentless in its course of wide-spread damage. Some people lost everything, these residents of Bradman Drive amongst them. Below: Stranded cars were on every street corner, road and intersection after monsoonal rain dumped more than 625mm.

Far left: A picture of misery, but safe at last. A North Mackay family regroups, after rescuing their little dog, Coda. Families were forced to abandon their homes when the levee bank broke and flooded North Mackay. Left: Council Environmental Officer, Sarah Fuller, and a local resident discuss flood damage.

Jenny’s story

stop the water coming in from the front and

catering department who didn’t make

February 15 brought plenty of drama

the back of the house. I rang work to say

it in on February 15.

for Jenny Nancarrow but her biggest

I couldn’t make it; that was just before the

disappointment came in learning she

phones and the electricity went out.”

wouldn’t be paid for a day when it was impossible to get to work. For four hours, Jenny and husband Blue battled to stop the water inundating their home in East Mackay.

Around two feet of water met in the middle. “We were running around like headless chooks trying to move our

“We couldn’t possibly get there. The radio was telling us to stay put. But the hospital said it wasn’t in our agreement and that was that.” Jenny is now trying to have a

computers and other things out of the way.”

natural-disaster clause inserted in the

Jenny, a union delegate at The Mater

new enterprise agreement. “It may not

“I’d never seen anything like the rain

Hospital, found it incredible to be told

happen for another hundred years, but

that day. We were just doing our best to

there would be no pay for those in the

it’s good to have.”

www.awu.net.au

“Jenny found it incredible to be told there would be no pay for those in the catering department who didn’t make it in on February 15.” theaustralianworker 9


Health

health

yourself The good news is that these days we live longer, but with proper daily attention to our health and well-being we can learn how to offset the risk and discomforts of debilitating illness later in life.  WRITTEN BY melissa sweet Photos getty images

www.awu.net.au

theaustralianworker 11


Health

Making health a priority Twenty years ago, Graham Meik was too busy with work and family responsibilities to pay much attention to his health. But when the Melbourne man suffered his first heart attack 14 years ago, he started to re-think his attitudes. “I went from being, I thought, a healthy individual to suddenly incapacitated, with difficulty working,” he says. “Then I realised that I had to do something for myself, so I started to walk actively, five days a week.” After suffering another heart attack, Graham was diagnosed with heart failure. He was then referred to cardiac rehabilitation and became involved with helping to develop exercise support groups at Ferntree Gully to enable others with heart disease to become more physically active. Now 73, Graham exercises with the group twice a week, and has been invited to give a presentation on the benefits of self-management. “If 20 years ago somebody had said, ‘you should be doing this or that’, I wouldn’t have had time to listen because I was too busy,” he says. “It wasn’t until that first heart attack that I started to think. It took me another eight years to become involved in a self-management group. “It allows you to get on with life and feel the best you can for the time that you’ve got.”

Graham Meik

12 theaustralianworker

O

nce upon a time, when sick people went to a doctor, there were two likely scenarios. They either recovered or perished, the victims most likely of heart disease, cancer or a deadly infection. These days, increasing numbers of people face a third option: they are neither cured nor killed, but must learn to live with a long-term or chronic condition. Increasing numbers of people live with chronic complaints because they live longer than previous generations. Better treatments keep them that way as more people survive problems like heart disease that once may have killed them but now leave them only with a long-term complaint. And the unhealthy side effects of our modern lifestyles, including weight gain and physical inactivity, also mean that more people are developing chronic conditions such as diabetes. The rise of chronic diseases is forcing changes onto health services which have traditionally been designed to provide short-term care for acute problems, rather than the long-term coordinated care needed by increasing numbers of Australians. The role of patients is also changing. Where once they went to a doctor hoping to be ‘fixed’, these days they are being asked to become more actively involved in managing their own care. One way is through self-management programs, which aim to help people develop the problem-solving skills and the confidence to make changes in their lives and how they care for their health. This might mean learning how to better manage medicine use, or how to change what they eat and drink, or to develop better strategies for coping with pain or fatigue. Studies have shown such programs can bring real benefits for patients with chronic conditions, by helping to ease their symptoms and improve their health. The problem, according to some experts, is that many people who might benefit from selfmanagement programs do not get referred to them. “GPs will be the first port of call for many people, and a lot of GPs are not very aware of self

Dr Gary Deed, National President of Diabetes Australia.

Helen Hopkins, Executive Director of the Consumers’ Health Forum of Australia.

“People shouldn’t wait to be diagnosed with a chronic illness to make changes to their lifestyle or become more proactive about their healthcare.” Dr Gary Deed

“The doctor may not be the best person to help you because he’s only got that short appointment so it’s worth looking for support groups.” Helen Hopkins

management as a principle or where people can find self-management programs,” Dr Christine Walker, Executive Officer of the Chronic Illness Alliance says. So it’s vital that patients become more proactive in asking questions about what other services are available, such as allied health or exercise programs, she adds. Helen Hopkins, Executive Director of the Consumers’ Health Forum of Australia, agrees that patients can benefit from asking more questions in consultations. “The doctor may not be the best person to help you because he’s only got that short appointment, so it’s worth looking for support groups,” she says. “For example, Diabetes Australia would have a whole lot of support around how to manage your diabetes and may have a diabetes educator who could help. www.awu.net.au


Have a health check once you turn 45 – these are now available from GPs under Medicare.

Dr Lyn Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

“Over the next generation we are going to see more people with chronic disease leading active lives in the workplace.” Dr Lyn Roberts

“Or there may be a local Heart Support Australia group where people share practical information about what has helped them or their families to manage getting on with life after a bypass.” Dr Gary Deed, National President of Diabetes Australia, says that people shouldn’t wait to be diagnosed with a chronic illness to make changes to their lifestyle or become more proactive about their health care. Many people’s health is suffering because they are inactive, eating poorly or overweight, he says. “The recommendation now to reduce risk of chronic diseases is to stay physically active all of your life,” he says. Dr Deed also advises people to have a health check once they turn 45 – these are now available from GPs under Medicare – to help assess their need for lifestyle changes. “It’s better to invest upfront in preventing www.awu.net.au

something,” he says. “Treat your body like a good investment. Go in and actively use the health system to reduce your risk.” Meanwhile, Dr Lyn Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, says the growing number of workers with chronic diseases means that workplaces will have to also play a greater role. “Over the next generation we are going to see more people with chronic disease leading active lives in the workplace,” she says. “It is going to be quite a significant change of focus for employers and unions regarding their obligations under occupational health and safety. “We’ve done simple things in the workplace like health checks and promoting public transport options, but we’ve only scratched the surface of what could be done.” ◆

For more information • Chronic Illness Alliance has information about related legal and workplace issues: www.chronic illness.org.au/workwelfarewills/ • Stanford University in California pioneered self-management programs and has a wealth of useful resources in different languages: http://patienteducation. stanford.edu/ • La Trobe University also offers useful resources in different languages: www.latrobe.edu.au/ aipc/director/plsmci/index.html • For information about self management and specific diseases: www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/ home/index.htm www.heartfoundation.org.au www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/ • A portal to multilingual health resources: www. healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/

theaustralianworker 13


VALE

tribute to an

old mate Clyde Cameron was a union man and a Labor legend. But you’ll have to read on to find out why he was nicknamed ‘Shithouse’!

W

WRITTEN BY michael blayney Photo newspix

hen the Federation of Industrial Manufacturing and Engineering amalgamated with the Australian Workers’ Union in 1993, Wayne Hanson (AWU Secretary, South Australia) was keen to learn more about the historical dynamics of his new working environment. One of the first people he sought out was Clyde Cameron, former AWU official and ALP legend. “I wanted the history to be laid out before me, and Clyde’s mind was so sharp, so accurate in detail, that he could recite days, dates, names, times, and, amazingly, provide quotes,“ says Wayne. “I recognised early on that there was a wealth of knowledge in Clyde’s head. He was always willing to share all parts of the jigsaw.” Clyde Cameron’s enormous contribution to the AWU provides a significant chapter in the rich, dynamic history of the organisation. His family background was working class and he was proud to make a difference in the lives of workers. Wayne claims Clyde’s direct link to AWU origins cannot be underestimated. “If you can picture the beginnings of the Australian Workers’ Union in 1886, those shearers were still working well into the 20th century. Young fellows like Clyde Cameron would sit around campfires at shearing sheds all over the country chatting to the very same 14 theaustralianworker

characters who started the Union,” says Wayne. On his travels, the cockies knew the union organiser simply, and somewhat crudely, as “Shithouse” Cameron. At every shed, Clyde would first inspect the most basic of structures – the fly-blown, long-drop dunny. If a flyscreen door wasn’t attached to the outhouse, he wouldn’t leave the station until the health and safety of his members was up to scratch. “This was a great training ground for future politicians,” says Wayne. “You found a way to get to the shearing shed whether by pushbike, horse or wheelbarrow. You just got yourself there, and Clyde wouldn’t leave until the job was done.” www.awu.net.au


Clyde Robert Cameron born Murray Bridge, SA, December 11, 1913 died Adelaide, March 14, 2008 1928 – Left school to

shear sheep; joined the AWU

1939 – Elected AWU

organiser

1941- 49 – AWU secretary of the Greater South Australian branch 1942- 50 – Federal Vice President of the AWU 1943- 48 – AWU industrial advocate 1946- 58, 195859, 1963- 64 – President of the Australian Labor Party’s South Australian branch

1956 – AWU State

President of the Greater South Australian branch

1949- 80 – Member

of House of Representatives, Hindmarsh

1972- 75 – Minister for Labour; Minister for Labour and Immigration 1980 – Retired from

Parliament

Federal Minister Clyde Cameron having a cuppa with workers back in 1973.

An articulate and formidable negotiator, Clyde was just as effective as a powerbroker in the union movement and ALP. Wayne recalls one of Clyde’s most astute triumphs at a state ALP conference in 1967 that paved the way for Don Dunstan to take over the top job. “He got up and poured the praise on (Premier) Frank Walsh saying what a pity it was that Walsh had indicated his intention to resign. Of course, Walsh had no idea about his impending resignation, but it was all too late. Clyde was a great manipulator and could have passionate hatreds, but at that particular convention, he did the poor bastard in with praise.” www.awu.net.au

Clyde was a compulsive cataloguer, a collector of all things AWU and ALP: “He had a shed that was absolutely chock-a-block with files,” says Wayne. “He was adamant that ASIO broke into it and took some of the information with them. Clyde had all of the paraphernalia for every AWU election in South Australia. Whatever he tackled, he was meticulous in his approach.” Above all, Clyde Cameron was a tireless champion of the underdog and a vocal supporter of union politics. His passing is a huge loss to the movement as a whole. He is survived by his wife Doris, three children, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. ◆

“I recognised early on that there was a wealth of knowledge in Clyde’s head. He was always willing to share all parts of the jigsaw.” theaustralianworker 15


bob ellis

the party is

over

16 theaustralianworker

Since John Howard has been swept into the dustbin of history, so what of his last government’s remnants? Bob Ellis ponders the question.

A

lexander Downer’s recent shriek of rage at the 2020 summit – a throng of “Keating luvvies” he called it – showed how sad and scared the Liberals are getting, and how soon they’ll be abandoning ship. Earplugs, they cry, to the National Conversation; a knighthood to John Howard; God send Brendan soon to oblivion and God save the Queen. Few can name two Liberal Party leaders any more except for Troy Buswell maybe, who famously sniffs, it is lately alleged, women’s chairs – and fewer think they have a future. Prime Minister Bruce, historians remind us, lost his seat in 1929 and by 1931 his party did not exist. The Liberals, these days, are as credible

www.awu.net.au


as Scientologists, though not as well-heeled. No film star wants to know them. No South-East Asian leader yearns for Brendan Nelson, the region’s saviour. Few have heard of him. The one who bought the jet nobody wanted, was he, and never voted Liberal in his life? What are they to do? They have few options apart from cutting and running; sitting as Independents and claiming Howard’s vile decade of dirty deeds is news to them; or forming perhaps the Liberal-Democrat Party with Turnbull as its anti-monarchist, pro-Apology, pro-Kyoto head. For it’s pretty hard for them to scramble out of their current gurgling brown cesspit, I think, into even minimum credibility, since nothing they predicted in last year’s election has come true. That Rudd was just like Howard and would change nothing. That Rudd was a policy vacuum, with no new ideas on his mind. That Rudd, a drunken frequenter of strip clubs, was too maddened by fleshly distractions to run the country attentively. That Rudd and Swan were meek, brow-beaten puppets of the unions, whose hairy-shouldered members had sworn to wreck the economy. That pulling out of Iraq would terminate our friendship with America forever. That having nine simultaneous Labor governments in office was a recipe for left-wing turbulence, chaos and fiscal folly. That saying ‘Sorry’ to the Stolen Children was a pitiful, pointless exercise that would enrage millions of whites and pacify no blacks and cost us billions in greedy lawsuits. That even mentioning Tibet to China would cost us trillions in lost trade deals. That David Hicks, if recklessly turned loose in Adelaide and not watched like a hawk, would attempt to blow up most of Australia, and Dr Haneef likewise would immolate the Gold Coast with high explosives, and Mamdouh Habib ferment Islamic revolution. Like the boy who cried wolf in the fable they’ve exaggerated too often dangers that weren’t there, so no warning they give now will be believed. That every time Wayne Swan opens his mouth, grocery prices go up? Give us a break. That the ‘Keating luvvies’ at the 2020 include Alan Moss, Lachlan Murdoch, Lindsay Fox, Tim Costello, Tim Fischer, www.awu.net.au

Gerard Henderson, Miranda Devine and Bob Katter? Oh really? That if Barack Obama is elected, al-Qaeda will rejoice? (John Howard’s deranged assertion of last June, thus far unretracted.) Pull the other one. No-one at the 2020 summit spoke of terrorism at all, it turns out, nor the need for fresh fridge magnets or random body searches of old ladies in David Jones, nor the pre-emptive bombing of mosques lest a cleric say something inappropriate, nor the re-arrest of David Hicks. With no Howard to tout its perils, terrorism meant little there and stirred few primal fears. Funny that. So it well may mean the Liberals, with their Hillsong, Opus Dei, Exclusive Brethren associates, are currently dwindling into a rancid cult whose core of elderly, blithering illuminati find few young disciples now, and will, I guess, drop off the twig until there are no more of them. Like the DLP and the UAP. One Nation. The Democrats. The Joh-forCanberra push. The Barnaby Joyce false dawn. The John-Hewson-is-a-genius delusion. The Andrew Peacock Restoration. The National Country Party. After 60 good years the Liberal tide has receded, and there they lie on the beach, mere driftwood, flotsam and rotting flathead for bleary beachcombers to pick through, unwept, unhonoured and unsung. History will show I think that 1996 was won not so much by a Drover’s Dog as a Loaded Dog, who scampered all over the landscape with a bomb in his mouth and eventually, happily, wagging his tail, blew his party to smithereens. A few bloodied survivors are still tottering around the rubble holding their foreheads and baying for Aspirin but the dream is done, the song is ended and a drab, shoddy chapter of thick-witted evil stumbling to a close. John Howard the Quiet Destroyer and Peter Costello the Spineless Wannabe have left the building and it’s slowly, solemnly, inexorably crumbling like the Twin Towers on 9/11. Their party’s mournful remnant should blow the bugle, sound the drum, winch down the flag and get the hell out of the way before it falls on them. The party’s over, chaps. Let it be. Drink the toast and share the memories. Then get a life. ◆

“Prime Minister Bruce, historians remind us, lost his seat in 1929 and by 1931 his party did not exist.”

theaustralianworker 17


HISTORY

we will

remember them

There are at least two sides to every war. Myths are born as each side draws their own historical truths. So how did a young Turkish-Australian woman feel about the ANZAC legend as she was growing up in Sydney? WRITTEN BY dilvin yasa Photos getty images/newspix

An Australian soldier stands guard during a service at the Australian Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli. 

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HISTORY

WAR – what is it good for?

Turkey was allied with Germany during WWI, so Britain’s strategic ambition was to cut off this alliance by capturing Istanbul, then known as Constantinople, by knocking Turkey out of the war and opening a route to Russia’s warm-weather ports through the Black Sea. It sounds straightforward enough but the operation was doomed from the start. Miscalculations by the British saw the ANZACs land at Ari Burnu, a more difficult terrain to the north of Gaba Tepe, their original destination, and they made the grave mistake of underestimating their enemy. The English thought the Turks would be unprepared and surrender straight away, but Ataturk had predicted their landing and told his men, “I don’t order you to fight, I order you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other troops and commanders can take our place.” And die they did. While Australia lost 8709 and New Zealand 2701 men, Turkey lost a staggering 86,692 soldiers.

Above: May 1915 infantrymen and lighthorsemen in the trenches at Gallipoli.

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NZAC Day has never boded well for me. As a child, each year the day before would begin the way of any other, but by 3.05pm I could be guaranteed to find myself sitting in the “sin bin” – an aluminium seat positioned behind a painted yellow line to protect fellow students from me, their would-be aggressor. My crime? Tearing fistfuls of hair from the head of Wayne, a classmate with a spectacular mullet and genuine dislike for my Turkish ancestors. It wouldn’t hold up in court, but I really wasn’t to blame. After having listened in on an hour of often inaccurate, if not downright invented versions of the battle of Gallipoli, I had to endure the ‘My great grandfather killed your great grandfather because he was a poof’ chants from Wayne and co, and I would snap and try and silence him – for good. Reprimanded by a chorus line of teachers, I would then serve out the rest of the day on that seat ruminating on my actions and what my teachers like to refer to as my ‘allegiance issues’. Some 20 years on, I’m still ruminating. You see, nothing causes an identity crisis to an Australian-born Turk quite like ANZAC Day. Three hundred and sixty four days of the year, your two selves live in harmony. But come the sounding bugles of April 25, and you’re left questioning your entire identity. Am I Australian or am I Turkish? And, more importantly, whose side am I even on? I grew up in a relaxed household no different to that of most Aussies, but Turkish history was drummed into me from day one so that I wouldn’t dare ever forget where I came from and how I came to be here. This is because most of my extended family was wiped out during the war fighting to protect their country. It was not for several more years that I was to become familiar with the ANZAC side of the story, so my understanding of the battle was completely one sided, and, frankly, I took it personally. In my younger years I was filled with rage and more than a little bewilderment about the

“I had to endure the ‘My great grandfather killed your great grandfather because he was a poof’ chants from Wayne and co... ” celebrations of the day. Refusing to take part in any ANZAC activities, I instead stalked my teachers, torturing them with my machinegun style demands to know: “Why are we celebrating this invasion?” and “what exactly were we defending Australia from if it was Turkey that was invaded?” It took a few years, but eventually I looked around me and saw that I was the only one still angry. Every other Turk seemed to have moved on and had no beef with the Australians, preferring to instead blame the English. (When I married my English-born www.awu.net.au


Turks in the parade

Above: Turkish soldiers, holding Turkish and Australian flags, stand guard during the 93rd anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. Top, left: The crowd gathers at the dawn service in Gallipoli. Left: 1915 Australian soldiers from 2nd Light Horse Regiment at ANZAC Cove in trench. One soldier uses a periscope rifle while a comrade ‘spots’ for him through the periscope.

husband, the irony was not lost on anyone.) Slowly, I emerged from my bitter cocoon and began reading up hungrily on our Australian soldiers and then something unexpected happened – my heart filled with pride and I felt as Australian as ever. I finally got it. Of course, every other Turk got it long before me and to this day have great affection for Diggers and Australians in general. The only thing they don’t understand? What they call our “national obsession with Gallipoli”. Turks figure they’ve been fighting for hundreds of years so why waste so much time and energy on one battle? I disagree. Gallipoli was a great tragedy for both sides, but for Turkey, it was the war we had to have as it also marked a great turning point in the country’s history. Gallipoli helped restore national pride and most importantly, it gave us Ataturk, the leader www.awu.net.au

“Gallipoli was a great tragedy... but, for Turkey, it was the war we had to have as it also marked a great turning point in the country’s history.” who shot to prominence during the war and went on to become modern Turkey’s revolutionary first president. If there had been no Gallipoli, there may never have been an Ataturk and without him, I wouldn’t be able to read or write, have a surname, vote, have a right to an education or to any say in my marriage. But above all, I’m aware that had it not been for Gallipoli, I would not be here writing a piece on what it means to be Turkish Australian on ANZAC Day. And on this day more than any other day, I am truly thankful and as an Australian-Turk, doubly blessed. ◆

Despite former president of the Victorian branch of the Returned Serviceman’s League Bruce Ruxton’s declaration that, “If they shot at us, they don’t get to march,” the Turks won the battle for the right to officially march in the Melbourne parades in 1996 as they were deemed “an honourable enemy”. For Ramazan Altintas, President of the Turkish sub-branch of the Victorian RSL, it was a victorious moment 15 years in the making. “My grandfather fought in the war so it was important for me and other Turks like me to be able to honour them in the parade.” Some 20 descendents of Turkish soldiers marched in that first parade and that number has increased over the years to over 100. Major General David McLachlan, State President of the Victorian RSL, concedes the no-Turks policy was slow to change but that up until the Turks fought side-by-side with the Australians in Korea, they were still seen as the enemy. “After Korea, everything changed. We saw that the Turks have a place in the parade and as much right to march proudly as the Aussies,” McLachlan says. Both men agree that there’s a mateship between the nations that doesn’t exist with any other former enemies. “It’s a special day we share with Turkey and there’s a lot of respect on both sides,” McLachlan says. For Altintas, who has marched in every parade, it’s all about identity. “We’re marching for both Turks and Australians and it’s a reason to remember that we’re now both Turkish and Australian and we represent both sides proudly.”

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moscow olympics

cold

war games

Even as a teenager, Lisa Forrest wasn’t going to hold with the international boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. As Beijing’s turn to be the host looms, Lisa has become the author of the controversies and personal struggles brought about by Australia’s stance on the Moscow Games. WRITTEN BY michael blayney Photos getty images/newspix/fairfax

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isa Forrest is able to pinpoint the precise moment her Olympic dream took flight. It was 1972 and the Grade 3 student from Sydney’s northern suburbs was at a school assembly celebrating the achievement of Munich 400-metre individual medley gold medallist Gail Neal. After the formalities, dozens of children swamped Neal for a close-up of her Olympic jewellery. Lisa’s shyness, however, precluded her from joining the pack. “I was up the back totally spellbound,” she says. “I wanted to go to the place where Gail Neil had won gold and swum her best time by six seconds. I loved the fact that there was this magical place that you could be the best you could be.” Lisa chose backstroke as her ticket into the “magical place”. Close to eight years later, the youngster had tracked a thin black line for 

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Flashback: The Moscow Olympics caused global controversy.

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moscow olympics

“I was convinced that we should go to Moscow... At the time, wheat farmers were increasing trade with the Russians, but the athletes were any easy target.”

thousands of kilometres and, after a successful Commonwealth Games campaign, she was on the cusp of representing her country at the Moscow Olympics. As they (probably) say poolside, everything was going swimmingly. And then, on December 27, 1979, the Soviet Union’s armed forces invaded Afghanistan. Suddenly, Australia was in very real danger of missing, by way of protest, its first ever modern Olympic Games. Now, 28 years on, Lisa Forrest has written Boycott: Australia’s Controversial Road to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, interweaving her own journey with the Cold War manoeuvrings of the time. The book is, in places, serious political reportage from someone without the words “serious political reportage” on her resume. Did this worry her? “Yes, it was incredibly intimidating,” she admits; her previous work as a television journalist, actor and children’s author was not the ideal preparation for the job. “The challenge of the book was to do a thoughtful piece of journalism and tell a great story. But it was intimidating and it was emotional as well. I was nervous all the way through.” Lisa’s apprehension is in no way reflected in

the finished product. From the backrooms to the big stage, Boycott is a comprehensive, polished account of Australia’s involvement in the Moscow Olympics. After the USSR invaded Afghanistan, the United States and over 50 countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Despite relentless bullying from the conservative side of politics, the Australian Olympic Federation voted in favour of competition. In turn, 123 Australian athletes headed for Moscow, while 95 of those originally chosen to compete decided to give the Games a wide berth. Lisa was Moscow-bound. “I was convinced that we should go to Moscow,” says Lisa, the then 16-year-old captain of the women’s swimming team. “Politicians wanted to feel like something was being done, and using the athletes wasn’t going to affect your job or your interest rates. At that time, wheat farmers were increasing trade with the Russians, but the athletes were an easy target. It was clear to me that we were being used.” In the wider community, opinion was divided over the merits of a Games boycott and tensions ran high. Lisa’s family fielded

Moscow meltdown In her first Olympics, Lisa Forrest qualified for the 200 metres backstroke final. It wasn’t her finest moment in the pool... “Backstrokers were having trouble with the touch pads we pushed off at the start of the race. They were slippery. Before the final, [teammate] Mark Tonelli offered me a can of resin to spray on my feet for grip, but I said no. I was having trouble with my confidence. Michelle Ford has told me since that I was frantic the whole time. This was the Olympic Games, and I wasn’t prepared. “When I got into the water,

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there were white patches on the yellow Omega touch pads. Someone had used it before me and taken the colour away. Then I started thinking, where should I put my feet? Is it more slippery where the white patches are, or will I get more grip there? These are the sorts of questions you don’t want to be asking seconds before the biggest race in your life. “I started to slip before the gun went off. I was slipping right down the wall, kicking wildly, hoping to get to the surface as quickly as possible. That was it for me. I was behind the whole race and ended up finishing seventh.”

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telephone death threats and her 11-year-old sister was called a communist at school. “We are a very close family and we battled through. People often ask me how I coped. Well, I coped because that’s what I had to do. My family made plenty of sacrifices and it wasn’t in my nature to wallow. “Mum and Dad were regular working people,” she says, calling the book a love letter to her parents. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but I got my lycra swimsuit. That was the most technologically advanced thing of the day, going from nylon to lycra.” While Lisa’s family shielded the swimmer from most of the unsavoury distractions, government and corporate funding began to dry up. Support arrived in the form of the trade union movement. Lisa explains: “All the unions were behind us. Judy Patching (secretary general of the Australian Olympic Federation) would receive a call from a guy on an oil rig wanting to know where he could send $2500 they’d raised. The Seamen’s Union raised more than $50,000 for us in the end.” A proud member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Lisa enjoys talking politics with her mother. “She’s such a believer, while

I’m probably a little more cynical. I love politics, but I get angry at the reporting. If we stopped reporting on the nonsense, maybe the politicians might work harder and do things of substance.” Married with a son, Lisa continues to live in Sydney, swimming daily laps for fitness and fun. With Beijing on the horizon, Lisa can see clear parallels with Moscow. “Some politicians have suggested an athlete boycott of China because of the situation in Tibet. You don’t hear these same politicians asking Rio Tinto or BHP to make a sacrifice. You don’t hear them asking these corporations how they feel about human rights in China.” Lisa will be watching the Beijing Games unfold on the telly, maybe even catching up with some of her Moscow buddies over the fortnight. One of the joys of writing the book was reconnecting with all the old names and faces. “There are only so many people you can talk to about the Moscow experience,” she says. “I interviewed Rick Mitchell [Moscow 400-metre track silver medallist] and he thanked me for writing the book. When Rick Mitchell said that, it was all the encouragement I needed.” ◆ Lisa Forrest today.

Far Left: Lisa Forrest arrives in Moscow in 1980. Left: The Moscow Olympic Games’ mascot Misha the bear at the opening ceremony of the 1980 Olympic Games. Above: Protesters against sending Australians to the 1980 Moscow Olympics demonstrate outside a pub owned by Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser in Birchgrove, Sydney. Dawn Fraser was vocal in her support of Australian competing through her anti-boycott organisation, Australians for the Olympics.

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Lisa’s book Boycott: Australia’s Controversial Road to the 1980 Moscow Olympics By: Lisa Forrest Publisher: ABC Books RRP: $35 ISBN-13: 9780733322952 theaustralianworker 25


guest workers

be our

guest

26 theaustralianworker

While horror stories about the exploitation of so-called “guest workers” have shocked Australian workers, there are strategies that can be implemented to make the scheme work – with benefits for all. WRITTEN BY jeremy vermeesch Photos GETTY IMAGES

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he Australian Workers Union is proposing new strategies to fix Australia’s overseas guest worker policies, as part of a fresh plan to stamp out exploitation, boost local training and jobs, fill skills gaps and rebuild rural communities. The plan is also based on the realities of international labour mobility in the global market and aims to improve Australia’s role in building regional economies, according to the Union’s National Secretary Paul Howes. The Federal Government is now reviewing the former Howard regime’s temporary migrant skilled worker program – the subclass 457 visa scheme – following notorious examples of abuse, mostly of vulnerable workers from Asian nations (see breakout box overleaf). The AWU is also working with agricultural industries and governments to develop an innovative temporary unskilled worker program – particularly for unemployed Pacific Islanders keen to fill seasonal labour shortages in horticulture. “I know this won’t always be popular, but we have an obligation for the future and we recognise our international responsibilities,” Paul says.

Setting the limits The requirements for successful guest worker schemes under the AWU plan include: • Paying all guest workers the going Australian market rate. • Ensuring Australian workers are not already available to do the jobs, especially through extra local skills training. • Tougher compliance rules and stricter penalties for employers to prevent abuse of workers’ pay, conditions and safety. • Mandatory training and education for guest workers on their rights and responsibilities; and • Creating a public register of guest workers to ensure greater transparency and build public confidence.  www.awu.net.au

“The AWU is also working with agricultural industries and governments to develop an innovative temporary unskilled worker program.” theaustralianworker 27


guest workers

457 Visa shame file

printers by a total of $93,000. The workers’ agreements stated they would work at least 50 hours a week.

• Jan 2008 AWU exposes allegations that dozens of s457 Filipino workers on McDermott International’s Angel gas and oil project off Western Australia were being underpaid – with one receiving as little as $8 an hour – sparking an investigation by the Workplace Ombudsman.

• June 2007 An s457 Filipino farm supervisor is killed after being thrown from the back of a utility on a Northern Territory cattle station.

• Mar 2008 WA construction firm Hanssen Pty Ltd fined $174,000 by a Federal Magistrate for exploiting 15 Filipino and Irish s457 workers, including breaches of AWA requirements.

• Mar 2007 An s457 Filipino stonemason is crushed to death by granite slabs north of Perth.

• Sept 2007 A director of defunct Melbourne-based APrint (Aust) Pty Ltd is fined $9240 by a Federal Magistrate for underpaying four s457 Chinese

Benefits for all Under the AWU plan, progressive guest worker schemes could help Australian industries by meeting urgent skills shortages – including the need for seasonal labour in agriculture – while providing much-needed economic support for our Pacific neighbours. The Asian Development Bank estimates that more than a quarter of people in the Pacific region cannot earn enough to meet their basic needs. High levels of youth unemployment threaten the social as well as the economic progress of its nations. The plan aims to see money earned by guest workers returning home at the end of a season to be invested in their local communities. Some economists expect that the breaking of the drought in parts of Australia could generate labour shortages of up to 100,000 – meaning a properly run scheme would not put Australians out of work.

“The Asian Development Bank estimates that more than a quarter of The 457 scheme people in the Australia has experienced an explosion in the use Pacific region of the controversial s457 visa – used for skilled employees for up to four years, about cannot earn temporary half of them with an employer sponsor or under enough to meet an employer labour agreement. their basic needs.” Latest data from the Department of 28 theaustralianworker

• June 2007 An s457 Chinese logging worker is killed after being hit by a falling tree in western Queensland.

• Oct 2006 Hunan Industrial Equipment Ltd forced to pay $651,000 in unpaid wages to 38 s457 workers at a Sydney factory installation project. SOURCES: Federal Magistrates Court, Workplace Ombudsman, The Age.

Immigration and Citizenship shows that in 2006-07, 87,310 subclass 457 visas were granted – an increase of nearly 23 per cent on the previous year. In the same year 19,170 s457 visa holders were granted a new permanent visa. However, the department reports that monitoring of only 6518 employer sponsors was finalised in the year, with just 1680 site visits – raising concerns among unions about inadequate enforcement. The top five occupational groups sought by employers under the 457 program last year were IT professionals, registered nurses, GPs, business and information professionals, and trainee doctors. In February, the Federal Government announced a 6000 increase in the whole skilled stream of the migration program, bringing the total number of temporary and permanent skilled immigrants for 2007-08 up to 108,500. The s457 temporary program requires workers to be paid at least a set minimum salary level, ranging from about $40,000 to $60,000 a year. The workers must pay Australian income tax and are generally not allowed Medicare or Centrelink benefits. However, some labour agreements have been used to undercut the required salary. Last September, Federal Parliament’s Joint www.awu.net.au


Committee on Migration unanimously recommended tougher enforcement of the scheme, including a new complaints mechanism, reviewing training compliance and the adequacy of Regional Certifying Bodies, which are supposed to help decide if genuine skills shortages exist. Labor Party members of the Committee also recommended new measures to ensure that Minimum Salary Levels reflect real market rates so that the scheme cannot be used to drive down Australian wages. Immigration Minister Chris Evans in February announced changes to labour agreements using s457 visas, requiring consultation with stakeholders – including unions – before the agreements can be approved by the department. Separately, the Federal Government has promised its new Skills Australia organisation will provide an extra 450,000 training places for Australians over the next four years.

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The next step Senator Evans has set up two reviews affecting the future of the s457 scheme – the latest being conducted by Australian Industrial Relations Commissioner Barbara Deegan and due to report in October. Announcing the review in April, Minister Evans said it would address concerns about the exploitation of migrant workers, salary levels and English language requirements introduced last year by the former Howard government. Meanwhile, the Minister’s External Reference Group has already signalled changes to speed up processing times so industries can urgently fill skills gaps. In an interim report in March, the group suggested establishing an accreditation system to allow employers with a good track record to have their s457 applications fast–tracked. The AWU’s plans will be considered as part of the final review. ◆

“The Federal Government has promised its new Skills Australia organisation will provide an extra 450,000 training places for Australians over the next four years.”

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born to be wild – part 3

easy

riders

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a chameleon. At different points in its colourful history, the bike has morphed itself into track racer, two-wheeled tourer, war machine and the cycle of choice for urban outlaws. WRITTEN BY boris mihailovic Photos david hahn/getty images/Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives “copyright Harley-Davidson”


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s the ‘60s loomed psychedelically in the consciousness of the US, the world became correspondingly more complicated. HarleyDavidson was entering a period in its history that would change forever the way it was perceived. Servicemen who had returned from WWII had been looking for ways to spice up their slice of apple-pie America. They found them behind the handlebars of the Harley-Davidson. Harleys began to be “chopped” by their owners – that is, modified, lightened and customised. Social clubs began to form with names like the Boozefighters, the Galloping Gooses, and the 13 Rebels. They would hold rallies, races and social events, and while still a long ideological distance from being outlaw motorcycle clubs as we understand them today, they did raise a lot of hell in a very short time. But this hell-raising consisted mostly of getting drunk and riding around the countryside in large groups on very loud, hotted-up motorcycles. In the happy (but ever-vigilant) world of post-war America, when the only external enemy was the ravening Soviet horde a mere 100km away across the water from Alaska, groups of drunken youths on motorcycles were fast news on slow weekends. And that was pretty much the case with the infamous “riot” that occurred in Hollister, California, in 1947 – the echoes of which can still be heard.  www.awu.net.au

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born to be wild – part 3

Left: Hollywood depicted the 1947 riot at Hollister, California, in the movie The Wild One, in 1953. Actors Marlon Brando (pictured) and Lee Marvin starred in the movie whereby the outlaw biker clubs identified far more with Marvins’ character, Chino, who rode a Harley. Above: Hell’s Angels attending the 55th Annual Fourth of July Weekend Event, commemorating the1947 incident when outlaw motorcyclists supposedly overran the town of Hollister.

“Hollywood was proceeding full steam ahead with outlaw biker films... cementing the image of the outlaw biker in American consciousness.” 32 theaustralianworker

What actually happened in Hollister that July Fourth weekend, and what the media reported, were two entirely different things. But the media can never be accused of letting the truth get in the way of a good yarn. Essentially, about 4000 motorcyclists turned up to this small Californian town to participate in organised events sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association. This was several times more motorcyclists than the town or the AMA expected. As a consequence, riders were sleeping on footpaths and parks when they weren’t drinking beer, riding their unmuffled motorcycles up and down the main street and generally having a great time. Fewer than 50 people were arrested during the entire weekend (mainly for public drunkenness), and there were a few injuries, but the USA was still a way from the race riots and massive civil unrest that was to mark the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the events at Hollister did make an impression on the zeitgeist. The media picked this as a great story and beat it up to sound like the apocalypse was now imminent for the USA. Life magazine even staged a photo it felt “captured” the event perfectly –

that of a fat drunk sitting on a bike surrounded by empty beer bottles. It didn’t matter that the drunk was a local man who didn’t own the bike he was sitting on, or that the bottles were placed there by the photographer. What mattered was that America had been alerted to the horror of the motorcycle gang and the AMA could issue its famous statement that: “The trouble was caused by the one per cent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists.” Thus was born the term “one percenter”, which was immediately adopted by some motorcycle clubs as a badge of honour. Hollywood immortalised the event a decade later in The Wild One, but outlaw bike clubs always identified with the Chino character played by Lee Marvin rather than the foppish Johnny portrayed by Marlon Brando. Interestingly, Johnny actually rode a Triumph in the film, while the far more charismatic Chino was seen astride a Harley. But as American motorcyclists divided themselves into one percenters and the rest, Harley-Davidson was starting to feel the pressure from overseas manufacturers – especially the www.awu.net.au


Far left: Hell’s Angels on the move. Left: After bikers stabbed and killed a man at a Rolling Stones concert held in December 1969, a hard-core outlaw motorcycle sub-culture was born. Below left: In consideration of new AMA rules for Class C racing, a new Sportster-based motorcycle, the XR 750 racer, is introduced in 1970. The American Machine Foundry (AMF) bought Harley-Davidson in 1969 and, due to the massive job cuts undertaken when this occurred, some said that “you would have been cursed to ride one of these ‘AMF-era Harleys’.”

English, who were having something of a golden age with their motorcycles. In 1952, Harley-Davidson applied to the US Tariff Commission for a 40 per cent tax on imported bikes and some people were starting to question such restrictive trade practices from what had become an Americon icon. It was premature because the English bike industry was on its last legs and the real threat would ultimately come from Japan. But the wisdom of hindsight is not given to us ahead of time. Meanwhile, Hollywood was proceeding full steam ahead with outlaw biker films and was making lots of these trashy classics in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, cementing the image of the outlaw biker in American consciousness and creating an eternal bogeyman for the establishment. Inadvertently, it was also creating perhaps the greatest marketing tool for Harley-Davidson, if one whose true value would not be fully realised until the baby boomers started coming of age in the ‘90s. Then along came 1969 and two utterly unforgettable events in the long history of Harley-Davidson. The first was that American Machine and Foundry (AMF) bought Harley-Davidson. You www.awu.net.au

may recognise the acronym if you’ve ever been ten-pin bowling. And if you ever rode an AMFera Harley, you would curse the day you did so. AMF slashed the company’s workforce in an attempt to streamline and rationalise production. Like so many greasy corporate shenanigans, it all went to hell. The workers went out on a series of rolling strikes and the build quality of the motorcycles fell into the sewer. Soon they were being labelled Hardly-Driveables by riders buying the much faster and better-made Japanese bikes that were just then becoming available. Sales declined and bankruptcy began to loom large and realistic in the company’s future. Then a second big thing happened. While not directly linked to the factory, the Hells Angels stabbed a man at a Rolling Stones concert held on December 6, 1969, at the then-disused Altamont Speedway in Northern California – and today’s hard-core outlaw motorcycle sub-culture was born. It was an event that would, ironically and ultimately, save the struggling firm. But HarleyDavidson would never admit it. ◆ • Join us next issue when Harley-Davidson finds redemption with its faithful workers, Porsche and a man called Erik.

“Life magazine even staged a photo it felt “captured” the event perfectly – that of a fat drunk sitting on a bike surrounded by empty beer bottles.” theaustralianworker 33


ON-LINE COMMUNITY

global

gossip It may not be popular with all employers, but the web’s new social networking sites are providing ways to make new friends – and unions are no exception.

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WRITTEN BY aidan ormond Photos getty images

“Join the networks that reflect your real-life communities to learn more about the people who work, live, or study around you.” 34 theaustralianworker

t work, surfing the Internet can be a delicate issue. Let’s face it, who hasn’t been tempted to peruse news, check personal emails or chuckle at a funny video? I know I have. And while most employers tacitly turn a blind eye – particularly if they value their employees’ contributions and it’s during downtime – the supersonic rise of social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook have lead to calls to ban them from workplaces for their potential to distract workers. But more of that later. MySpace is a “lifestyle portal”, meaning the site provides an array of avenues for ordinary people like you and me to share popular culture with like-minded “friends” on the site. It’s wildly popular – even trendy. Oh, and it’s free. There are around 100 million MySpace users, hence the cheery slogan “A place for friends”. MySpace spans an international network of 26 countries and across Latin America, too. Join, fill out your profile and once that profile is integrated into the site’s vast gateway and its countless users, connect with others who enjoy similar interests. For example, MySpace Australia has groupings ranging from literature and the arts to animals and sports. Within each grouping there could be around 20,000 different sub-groupings.

What’s more, within the MySpace community you can express yourself through blogs or emails, view MySpace TV (a rival to YouTube), hear great music from hitherto unknown acts (and some of the biggest, too), or read bulletins, job classifieds and other interactive, user-driven features. And for a bespoke feel, how about sprucing up your own page with your photos and emoticons (emotion indicators)? It is MySpace, after all. MySpace was set up in 1999 mainly as a place for musicians to post and publicise their music online (a great way for unknowns to get their music out to a larger audience). It’s evolved over time but music is still a big part of it. Take English singer Lilly Allen, dubbed “The www.awu.net.au


Queen of MySpace”. The 21-year-old enjoyed cross-over chart success with her 2006 hit Smile after posting her music on the site. So, that’s MySpace… Similarly, there’s Facebook – the other devilishly addictive social networking site du jour. Differences? Well, say some, Facebook is MySpace for a more mature generation (office workers, for instance). Facebook was originally developed at Harvard University, which accurately points to a more grown-up feel. If you want to keep up with news, jobs or people in your industry, there’s likely to be a Facebook group. Or just update your profile so friends know what’s going on in your life (you have the right not to accept those www.awu.net.au

who wish to be your friend). “Join the networks that reflect your real-life communities to learn more about the people who work, live or study around you,” explains this mega site, which has been valued at US$15 billion, has around 69 millions active users and was launched in 2004. “Facebook is really good at consolidating your networks, particularly from school and university,” says Jack Snape, a Sydney-based university student and freelance editor. 

Above: The Facebook page for US United Steelworkers Union.

theaustralianworker 35


ON-LINE COMMUNITY

“The Union has launched a web application allowing supporters to place the AWU badge onto their Facebook profile and to see which other friends are proud to support the AWU.” 36 theaustralianworker

Interestingly, one Aussie survey this year revealed that given a choice between two similar jobs that were equal in all other aspects, almost half of those who use social networking sites would plump for a workplace that allowed access to them over one which didn’t. What’s more, 75 per cent of workers said that access to such sites could be beneficial, claiming it demonstrated trust in employees. “Getting the balance right is particularly important in an economy with low levels of unemployment and intense competition for young talent,” says Nick Abrahams, Deacons Lawyers’ partner and national leader of its technology, media and telecommunications group, who authored the survey. There are other concerns, though. Last year, a 16-year-old Victorian boy posted details of a party at his parents’ Melbourne home on MySpace. That night, the home was trashed and police were later attacked. Similar incidents have also occurred in the UK and United States. More disturbing, a US high school student was shot dead by an uninvited guest at an under-age party after it had been publicised via MySpace. And even more sinister was the creator of a fake MySpace profile whose cruel email messages, it’s claimed, drove a US teenager to suicide. Less menacing, but nonetheless embarrassing, were raunchy photos of Aussie Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice posted on her Facebook profile. They were removed after a media storm erupted. It’s all a far cry from the pre-Internet era. If you ask your parents, social networking may’ve been drinks on the boss’s patio. But if you ask tens of millions of computer users today, social networking isn’t about chit-chat over sherry and vol-au-vents – it’s over the Internet. “I think social networking is here to stay,” Jack Snape adds. “Depending on technologies, these sites will evolve… but they’ll always be part of our lives in some guise in the future.” Is social networking just another web trend? Only time will tell. But judging by the popularity of MySpace and Facebook, the “download generation” really do click. ◆

Unions get connected AWU National Secretary Paul Howes, at age 26, is part of the net-savvy “download generation”. With this in mind, the Union has launched a web application allowing supporters to place the AWU badge onto their Facebook profile and to see which other friends are proud to support the AWU. “This is the 21st century equivalent of the Union pin badge,” Paul proudly explains. In fact, the AWU says it’s also planning to make the application available on MySpace. (Greenpeace and other environmental groups are already on MySpace, so it’s not just for teenagers into the latest music.) “Facebook will increasingly be a great way for our people to network and promote campaigns vital to AWU members,” Paul adds. But one example illustrates Facebook’s limits. One union organiser from the Canadian Union of Public Employees was so good at signing up friends on Facebook that the site shut down his account. “Your account has been disabled,” Facebook explained, “because you exceeded Facebook’s limits on multiple occasions when requesting friends, despite having been warned to slow down. We will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason.” What’s more, according to a US report, coffee conglomerate Starbucks had managers peruse a Facebook discussion group linked to former students of a university union program. The manager cross-checked names of employees to the discussion group and recommended that area managers be informed of their union links. And a poll of 600 employees overseas by the UK’s Sophos Plc last year claimed half of the respondents said their company had restricted access to Facebook. The UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on employers to resist this move, arguing that social networking sites are the modern version of water-cooler chat. As Derek Blackadder, the Canadian organiser, noted, “Facebook and MySpace share the same limitations, and that is that they are not controlled by the people who are using them.” Nevertheless, despite these examples, Paul is looking forward to putting a new spin on trade unionism by clicking with today’s computer savvy, social networking generation. “Thousands of people have used the application,” he happily reports. • To add the application to your Facebook profile visit: www.awu.net.au.

www.awu.net.au


history of oz rock

90s mix

’ 1990 Jason Donovan

name your brand In this episode of the history of Australian rock, our favourite music guru, Glenn A. Baker tunes into the many sounds of the 1990s when the charts offered something for everyone. WRITTEN BY Glenn A. Baker Photos GETTY IMAGES/ACP digital library/GAB archives

1992 Kylie Minogue

1995 Silverchair

1998 Midnight Oil

38 theaustralianworker

Main photo: The legendary Michael Hutchence and INXS, belt out a song during a 1991 West Hollywood, California, concert at the Whiskey.

www.awu.net.au


“I recall being at the Berlin Wall, hammer and chisel in hand, as it was coming down and hearing the Oils pumping out of a row of Kombis.”

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M

uch hay was made while international sun shone upon Australian music in the ‘80s. The lower continent wasn’t so much flavour of the month as flavour of the decade and we luxuriated in the indulgent attention. Men At Work broke US album chart records established by The Monkees 15 years before, INXS had a number one Billboard single from their nine million selling Kick album, and global charts opened up to Icehouse, Real Life, Flash & the Pan, Split Enz, Little River Band, Kylie Minogue, Crowded House, Midnight Oil, Moving Pictures, John Farnham, Mental As Anything, Angry Anderson, Pseudo Echo, the Church and Jason Donovan. I recall being at the Berlin Wall, hammer and chisel in hand, as it was coming down and hearing the Oils pumping out of a row of Kombis. Some of the bright new things of Europe took the time to tell me how this was the only band that seemed to be singing about what was happening. Their Blue Sky Mining album was top 20 in America (without a love song) and on charts across Europe. Then it was as if the novelty had worn off and the world had had its fill of us. The Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” (very much an American confection) was a US top 5 swan song of sorts in the early ‘90s. For others it was a bums’ rush. Take the titanic INXS – who not long before had been ranked with U2 and Guns N’ Roses as one of the three biggest bands in the world. “Disappear” ended a run of six top 10 US hits that began with the number one “Need You Tonight”. After that, it was Britain that had them atop charts, America didn’t want to know. Same thing with Crowded House – two smash US hits in ’87 and then bye bye, don’t leave your card. Ditto Kylie Minogue who had a US top 3 in ‘88 with “The Loco-Motion” and then… who are you? The UK was there for those three antipodean acts in the ‘90s, as it would be for Craig McLachlan,

Peter Andre and other TV-launched stars. But what seemed to be automatic access to the biggest market of all was severed. Which was no small shame because, if the challenge facing Australian musicmakers of the ‘90s was to sift through the influences of the previous 40 years and distill a sound still fresh, vital and innovative, they met it very well. The stars of that decade moved across genres with ease – from classic pop, to dance, to ‘world music’, to funk, to boot scootin’ country, to rock ’n’roll, to ‘unplugged’ acoustic to… well, anything that could be thought of. And the cross-pollination was just exhilarating. Everybody was still trying for the biggest prize of all. I saw Noiseworks deliver a blistering set at the 1990 MIDEM festival in France that turned heads – but with that proving to be beyond reach for a time there was a new surge at home in the rock closest to Australian hearts – tensile music forged in pubs. Some bands didn’t think much beyond their neighbourhoods, which were being rocked relentlessly. Home town heroes in the tough industrial city of Newcastle, the thunderously disruptive and rambunctious Screaming Jets were already packing venues when they won the inaugural National Band Competition at the end of 1990. Fronted by loud and loquacious Dave Gleeson they stormed into the national top three in the first half of 1991 with the All For One album and “Better” single. And thundering away alongside, Noiseworks (who had their biggest hit of all in 1991 with the top ten “Hot Chilli Woman”) was the explosive trio Ratcat, who you’ll now find described in print as the first band from the Sydney alternative guitar scene to reach a wider, mainstream young audience, with their combination of speedball fuzz-pop. These clever lads succeeded, as Rolling Stone once put it, on an agenda of simple guitar-pop love songs and boyish good looks. Succeeded so well that “Don’t Go Now” did the same chart business as the Screaming Jets’ single, going to number 2. Baby Animals – with the voice of Suze DeMarchi 

theaustralianworker 39


history of oz rock

“He was another worthy artist of the early ‘90s to whom huge expectations were attached, but were thwarted and felled...”

 Diesel (Mark Lizotte)

 Screaming Jets

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scorching roof tiles and sending “Early Warning” and “One Word” into the top 20 – had loftier international aspirations, as did their new label Imago, but they were largely unrealised in those dark days. John Farnham had cracked the British top ten and European summits with “You’re The Voice” but that subsided as he settled in for a long run of homeground multi-platinum album success with Chain Reaction booting him into the ‘90s. It was this success that had prompted the rehabilitation of another stellar voice from our collective past, Sherbet’s Daryl Braithwaite, who had his biggest second-era hit of all late in 1991 with “The Horses”, featuring Margaret Urlich. At the same time, fellow Kiwi vocalist Jenny Morris, who’d been part of INXS’ global jaunts, cracked it for her biggest smash with “Break In The Weather”, Deborah Conway (who we’d heard in Do Re Mi) was top 20 with the String Of Pearls album and “It’s Only Just Beginning” single, and Canadian-born Wendy Matthews (who’d greatly impressed on the Absent Friends 1990 hit “I Don’t Want To Be With Nobody But You”) was affecting a career build with the gold single “The Day You Went Away” in 1992. Kate Ceberano, on fire at the end of the ‘80s with “Bedroom Eyes” and “Young Boys Are My Weakness”, remained a force, particularly in 1992 when she joined forces with Farnham, Noiseworks’ Jon Stevens, the Tatts’ Angry Anderson and John Waters for an arena musical version of Superstar. It was in ‘new’ markets outside the traditional targets of North America and Europe that Rick Price, Indecent Obsession and Deni Hines were shipping stock. Rick’s “Heaven Knows” was a pan-Asian hit, Australia’s first, while the Indecent lads were charting from Latin America to South Africa and Deni, signed to the prestigious Interscope label, was pursuing well the oftclaimed but elusive goal of being big in Japan. The Badloves celebrated a southern swamp sound, with key members Michael Spiby and Jak Housden tapping into an earthy musical tradition. 1993 saw three ARIAAwards, a national collaborative hit on The Weight with Jimmy Barnes (with whom they would tour Europe) and a hit in their own

right with “Green Limousine”. Barnsey, who had stepped from deification in Cold Chisel into an ‘80s solo career that had not dipped for a second, had an ear for the splendour of soul that had paid off well at the end on 1991, with not just his sixth consecutive number one album, but the biggest of his career – the tribute Soul Deep. There was something in the air at the time – Jimmy and John Farnham went toe-to-toe on Sam & Dave’s soul standard “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” for a national number two, the same position the angelic Peter Blakeley from The Rockmelons had reached with his soulful “Crying In The Chapel”, which took out Single of the Year at the 1990 ARIA Awards. He was another worthy artist of the early ‘90s to whom huge expectations were attached, but were thwarted and felled when the world looked the other way. The American-born Diesel (Mark Lizotte) had got in ahead of them all, slicing through with gritty, bluesy raunch from 1986 as Perth’s Johnny Diesel & the Injectors.This real-deal guitarist and singer went on to cut (sometimes in Memphis) some of the most exciting rock heard in Australia in the last stages of the 20th century. His debut solo album, 1992’s Hepfidelity, gave him his biggest hit with “Tip Of My Tongue” and earned him, at the ARIAs of the following year, Best Male Artist and Album of the Year gongs. From a distance, 1991-92 were pivotal years. Emerging as a ground-breaking band purveying contemporary rock imbued with the strains of indigenous Australian music, Yothu Yindi, from Arnhem Land, was hailed for its ability to adapt ancient Aboriginal sound patterns to commercial rock formats. Armed with the mid-‘91 hit “Treaty”, they toured internationally, playing to thousands of rock fans who came expecting the standard rock’n’roll fare of lights, volume and techno-flash stage antics and went away fascinated by the dramatic movements of primitive age tribesmen and exhilarated by strange seductive rhythms. The meat of the matter came in waves in a stopstart era dampened by the slow flow of licensing revenues from the top half of the world. Even we weren’t always paying the attention we should have. Thrash pop trio Spiderbait assembled in the

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“There was a longing for the days when the best of the great southern land was up there with the best in the world.”

Left to right: Singers Angry Anderson, Anthony Warlow, Jon Stevens and John Farnham pose at a 1992 photocall for the promotion of Jesus Christ Superstar the musical.

NSW town of Finley in 1990 but remained out of earshot for some years. As did Powderfinger who formed in Brisbane the same year. Coming along the year before both was You Am I, whose mainman Tim Rogers, according to Jimmy Barnes, has the ability to take his range of guitar-band influences and weave them into “...this wonderfully twisted view of the world. He’s a tortured, beautiful soul and that comes out in his songs...” From a 1993, US-recorded debut album, Sound As Ever, came the single “Berlin Chair” that ended up at number 23 on the 1994 Triple J Hottest 100 listing. A subsequent dizzying rise saw albums debut at number one and six of those pointed statues at the 1996 ARIA Awards. At the ARIAs in March 1994 the Cruel Sea, with their third album, The Honeymoon Is Over, effected the sort of clean sweep that Ian Moss had managed in 1990 – Best Group, Album of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year. They were for a time, for all their unpredictability, the hottest band in the land. A land that was graced by plentiful offerings – from Ghostwriters, Dave Graney ‘n’ the Coral Snakes, Nick Barker & the Reptiles, The Sharp, Frente! Things Of Stone & Wood, Archie Roach, Skunkhour, Girl Overboard, Girlfriend, Christine Anu, Max Sharam, the Hard-Ons, Roxus, Welcome Mat, Tumbleweed and the ever-shining Paul Kelly,

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Black Sorrows and Nick Cave, among others. Notwithstanding the British success of INXS (who debuted at number 1 there in 1992 with the Welcome To Wherever You Are album) and Crowded House (who cracked the top 10 with “Weather With You” in 1992 and would go top ten with their Woodface and Together Alone albums and number one after their demise with the Recurring Dream best of). And, of course, the ever-changing Kylie Minogue who, in residence there, achieved Beatlesque chart feats, there was lingering longing for the days when the best of the great southern land was up there with the best in the world; when such was just taken for granted. By mid-decade international eyes refocussed on Australia thanks to some unexpected droughtbreakers. Young teenage Newcastle alternative rockers silverchair (dubbed by some “Nirvana in pyjamas”) unleashed their powerful frogstomp album and managed to shift a mighty three million copies of it around the world – sales figures not seen since the heady days of the ‘80s. At the same time the plucky Tina Arena, who swept ARIA Awards with her Don’t Ask album and “Chains” single, broke into the British charts and began a European penetration that would see her sell a million albums in France alone. It was a recovery that would surge with Savage Garden but that’s another tale for another time…◆

theaustralianworker 41


wise women

crafty

wenches

Do you knit or sew, or would like to learn? Do you like a nice hot cuppa, a glass of vino or a cold beer? Well, any women who tick all the above are welcome to join Stitch ‘n’ Bitch because they’re meeting at a café or pub near you! WRITTEN BY julia richardson Photos Jamie wicks/getty images


T

hey are young. They are old. They are amateurs and they are experts. They are tentative newcomers and seasoned veterans. They tote their knitting baskets and sewing bags up to the local pub or the café on the corner and settle in for a session of craft work in the company of like-minded people. They are the Stitch ’n’ Bitchers. And there are thousands of them. Not everyone likes the name ‘Stitch ’n’ Bitch. There are among the more conservative knitters, sewers and quilters, some who find it a little coarse, a little vulgar. Nonetheless it is the populist banner which has inspired hundreds if not thousands of community-based craft groups around the globe. It all began in 2003 with American Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ’n’ Bitch, a smart-mouthed, no-nonsense, best-selling, how-to guide for would-be knitters. It contained, most significantly, a chapter entitled ‘Wonderful World of Knitters’, a crafty call-to-arms which exhorted enthusiasts to start their own social knitting 

Left: Monday night at the Phoenix Club is the place to be in Newcastle, NSW. Jenny Tarran, third from left, says the Stitch ‘n’ Bitchers get crafty while solving the world’s problems.

www.awu.net.au

theaustralianworker 43


wise women

“Despite coming from a diverse range of backgrounds, both social and economic, us gals always end up with the same solution to all the world’s problems!”

knitworking If you can’t make it to the pub or the café to join the gang, you can knit for a worthy cause from home and network with others at the same time. Kerry Wallis and the craft group “Busy Hands Warm Hearts” are busy making various items for those in need, including “chemo caps” for cancer patients and rugs and other items for the Salvation Army, womens’ refuges, hospitals and the RSPCA. Kerry’s group is based in Woolgoolga, in Northern NSW, but they eagerly accept contributions from all over Australia. “We accept knitted squares from anywhere,” says Kerry. “The only thing we ask is that they’re knitted in acrylic yarn (for washability) and that they measure 18cm x 18cm as it is extremely difficult to stitch together irregularly shaped and sized pieces.” So start knitting and warm your hands on these cold winter nights. And for those trying to give up smoking, it’s the perfect aid! Best of all, you’ll be lending a helping hand to some very worthy causes. For more information about how you can contribute to Busy Hands Warm Hearts, email Kerry at spam84@tpg.com.au.

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groups. Indeed, Debbie gave detailed instructions on just how to go about getting a group up and running. That book, that chapter, those instructions inspired Australian woman Donyale Grant to start up a Stitch ’n’ Bitch group in the New South Wales steel town of Wollongong. At the time Donni was running a stall selling her own handmade goods at the local craft markets. As people stopped to browse her wares, she mentioned to them the idea of meeting regularly in a cafe at the bottom of town to chat and craft and share ideas. On the first night, back in 2004, about half a dozen interested crafters gathered. These days the group has grown to something like 30 or 35 and the monthly meetings have shifted to the lobby bar of the North Beach Novotel. “It’s a really organic group,” says regular Ailsa Daly. “It runs itself. If Donni doesn’t come, it doesn’t matter.” The brazenly democratic structure is characteristic of Stitch ’n’ Bitch groups everywhere. Stoller’s vision was, in part, to offer an alternative to the traditional craft guilds that were so terribly serious, so terribly demanding Knitting and nattering is a great way to de-stress and make new friends at the same time.

and had so terribly little to do with the lives and passions of modern women. It was to be a grass roots movement, accessible to anyone with an interest in the handmade, regardless of their skills or experience. “If you can come, then do come. But you don’t have to call anyone if you can’t make it,” insists Ailsa. “That’s the whole purpose of the group: it’s a very low pressure, walk-in, walk-out sort of thing.” That relaxed atmosphere has attracted a band of loyal regulars which includes teenagers and busy young working women as well as older, more family-minded types. One of the group’s most treasured members is a local octogenarian who was once a skilled lace maker. Her hands are not as agile as they once were and such fine work is no longer a possibility, but she still likes to come along, accompanied by her daughter, to chat with the other members, look at what they’re working on and perhaps share some snippets from her own great reservoir of crafting experience. Most of the women involved work in what Ailsa calls “the fibre arts” – knitting, sewing, patching, quilting, embroidering and the like – but there is no exclusivity. “If someone showed up with a pair of tin snips and some tin cans and was making things out of those we wouldn’t care,” laughs Ailsa. The open, generous, stridently populist approach is bringing newcomers to the groups in large numbers. The quick and easy growth of the Wollongong Stitch ’n’ Bitch has been matched in regional, urban and suburban centres around the country. In Corowa, close to the Albury-Wodonga border, a group that goes by the rather more seemly label of the Corowa Quilters, grew from a www.awu.net.au


handful to 50 regulars in just a couple of years. These days the group meets every second Saturday at the local RSL, which generously provides tea and coffee for the cheerful crafting crew. On Saturday, May 10, the Corowa Quilters hosted a quilt-in, inviting all local quilters to a weekend of celebratory communal crafting at the Corowa Memorial Hall. According to the group’s founder Karren Harris, they warmly welcomed something like 200 like-minded, craft-crazy women. “It stops you from sitting at home and doing it on your own,” she says, perhaps alluding to the isolation felt by so many women in regional areas, whether on the land or in town. In the NSW city of Newcastle, the Stitch ‘n’ Bitchers meet every Monday evening at the Phoenix Club in Mayfield. And these girls are united in their cause. “Despite coming from a diverse range of backgrounds, both social and economic, us gals always end up with the same solution to all the world’s problems!” says local journo and regular Stitch ‘n’ Bitcher Jenny Tarran. “Man, we could change the world for the better if only we were given the power. And for some reason journos, librarians and nurses seem to be attracted to knitting.” ◆ • Meanwhile, the long-standing Wollongong group continues to grow steadily. And while some of the newcomers belong to the ‘friends of friends’ category, just as many arrive with no prior social connections at all.

start stitchin’

For more information about when and where Stitch ‘n’ Bitch groups meet, check out their international website www.stitchnbitch.org for local links.

www.awu.net.au

Teenagers, young working or stayat-home mums and retirees are all welcome to Stich ‘n’ Bitch.

for those less crafty... • What of those who have no affinity with arts and crafts? What of those who have two left thumbs but just as much need to connect with like-minded souls? • In 1935 a despondent young mother in rural Ireland wrote to the advice column of a women’s magazine asking her peers to suggest ways she might overcome her painful loneliness. She disliked needlework, she said, adding: ‘I get so down and depressed after the children are in bed and I am alone in the house’. • Responses flooded in from women who felt similarly wretched and similarly ill at ease with ‘the domestic arts’.  • Buoyed, no doubt, the young Irish mother suggested that all those interested should form a ‘correspondence magazine’. And they did. Every two weeks each member of the Co-operative Correspondence Club (or “CCC” as they called themselves) submitted a story to a nominated editor. They wrote of the things that were happening in their lives: pregnancies, births, childhood dramas, marriage difficulties, affairs, jobs, homes, wars, illnesses and deaths.

• The group’s editor compiled the stories into a single volume inside a decorative hardcover and sent it on its way around the CCC mailing list. Each member had a certain amount of time in which to read the magazine, adding her own thoughts and comments to each story right then and there on the page, before sending it on to the next member on the list.  • The magazine, established in 1935, survived in its fortnightly instalments until 1990. That’s 55 years of staunch companionship, crafted by nothing more challenging than pen, paper and postage stamps. • Historian and writer Jenna Bailey documented this extraordinary social history in her book Can Any Mother Help Me? (Faber and Faber, 2007), revealing with a flourish that over 200 different correspondence clubs existed throughout Britain in the 20th century. Surely, then, there must have been similar clubs here in Australia where the developing population has always been so widely dispersed. Or if there haven’t been, then surely there should be now...

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adelaide

Adelaide Council provides a scheme whereby you can get free bike hire for your entire family.

kidding around

There are some top family activities around our capital cities that won’t break the bank. In this issue, we explore kid-friendly Adelaide. WRITTEN BY jayne d’arcy Photos getty images/acp digital library/SA Tourism

1. Bike around Adelaide

when: Bikes are available seven days a week from 9am-5pm

This one’s a bit of a secret – my hostel certainly didn’t tell me about it – and I later worked out why. While part of my hostel’s business is renting out bikes, in Adelaide you can actually borrow bikes for the whole family for free. Adelaide Council came up with the scheme and it’s an absolute winner for both locals and tourists. All you need to do is rock up to Bicycle SA’s office with the kids, hand over your photo ID as a deposit, and they’ll match you and your offspring with bikes, helmets and bike locks. For tiny ones there’s a bike with a baby seat; kids from five years up have access to BMXs, and those perhaps a little older can get a grip on hybrid extra small mountain bikes, while mums and dads get tough bikes with suspension. Not only do you get free use of the bikes during operational hours, if you get stuck with a puncture there’s a help line to phone for assistance. Between pick-up and deposit, there are plenty of great places to cycle, including the linear parks trail along the River Torrens, which is ideal for smooth cycling (with a few little hills) as well as swan, duck and duckling spotting.

(winter) or 8am-6pm (summer). where: Bicycle SA, 46 Hurtle Square, Adelaide. contact: (08) 8232 2644.

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2. Bay Discovery Centre, Glenelg Kids are pretty environmentally canny these days, so they might be surprised to discover what their European ancestors threw into the sea from Adelaide’s Glenelg Pier. Judging by Bay Discovery Centre’s strange collection of retrieved goodies, it wasn’t just empty bottles – no, those who walked the pier before us tossed in their guns, bullets, badges, brooches and awards. The Centre has gone to great lengths to research who may have dumped the goods and why, and it’s presented inside the centre as a re-creation of the area below the jetty. The old-style carnival display will interest the kids, too. when: Daily 10am-5pm. where: Glenelg Town Hall. Catch the Glenelg tram from the city to the end of the line (a 25-minute trip). contact: (08) 8179 9500. www.awu.net.au


3. Children’s Literary Trail This trail is located on the grounds of Carrick Hill (pictured below right), a 60-year-old mansion that now belongs to the people of South Australia. The trail can be a trial to get to, though, as it’s a 15-minute drive out of town and the bus doesn’t run frequently enough, but if you’re looking to entertain energetic, story-loving kids, the journey’s worth it. Even non-readers will enjoy following the pusher-friendly paths to find the animal sculptures (and real ducks) that are dotted around this huge garden. Get your free trail map from Carrick Hill’s reception (or download and print it from www.carrickhill. sa.gov.au) and get started on the discovery of Magic Faraway Trees, Winnie the Pooh, Hobbits (living in their Hobbit house) and, of course, trolls lurking under bridges. Kids can climb Charlotte’s Web, sit under Harry Potter’s Quidditch Tree and try to find his broomstick. There’s an onsite cafe, or take a picnic. when: Wednesday to Sunday 10am-4.30pm, closed during July. where: 46 Carrick Hill Drive, Springfield. Take bus 171 from King William to stop 16 and follow the signs, or 172C to Carrick Hill’s car park on Sundays and public holidays. contact: (08) 8379 3886.

4. Adelaide Hills Food Trail for Kids If you’ve got your own transport and are keen to sample the local Adelaide Hills produce, there’s a way to do it without boring the kids: take them to places listed in the free Adelaide Hills Food Trail for Kids brochure. The brochure outlines a self-guided tour and includes all the information you’ll need: maps, addresses, phone numbers, opening hours and, importantly, what’s in it for the kids. There are 11 listed outlets where kids are welcome and if you flash the staff the brochure, they’ll provide each child with a sample of the produce. The Trail for Kids includes Woodside cheeses and chocolates (pictured above right), Paris Creek yogurts, Oakbank cordials and biscuits and Hahndorf strawberries (November-April). As well as getting a taste of the goodies, this tour is great for showing kids where food really comes from and, if they’re lucky, who makes it and how it’s made. when: Opening days and times vary, so pick up a copy of the brochure from an SA Visitor Centre first. Groups of more than six children need to book. where: Adelaide Hills Visitor Information Centre, 45 Main Street, Hahndorf. contact: 1800 353 323.

Above: Melba’s Chocolate and Confectionery, Woodside, Adelaide Hills.

Above: Carrick Hill grounds where the children’s literary trail takes place.

5. Haigh’s Chocolate Visitors Centre This sweet treat of a chocolate factory and shop is on the outskirts of Adelaide. While it’s usually true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, once you step inside and take a seat you’ll realise that there is such a thing as free tea and coffee, and, once the 20-minute free tour begins, free chocolate. We’re not talking rivers of the stuff, just a few samples, but while you’re learning the story of the growth of South Australia’s own chocolate company you can watch rivers of melted chocolate being turned into something easier to sell. The guided tour involves walking along a short corridor to a viewing platform and the duration is just right for kids who get bored www.awu.net.au

easily. The chocolate makers on the other side of the glass don’t seem to mind being gawked at, which is surprising since these tours run three times a day, six days a week. It’s a popular tour and bookings are essential. If the samples have you all screaming for more, chocolate frogs range from 90 cents to $16 each from the on-site shop. when: Tours operate at 11am, 1pm and 2pm Monday to Saturday. where: 154 Greenhill Road Parkside.Take the 191, 192, 195 or 196 from the city’s C3 stop on King William and get off at stop 1, Unley Road. contact: (08) 8372 7077. ◆

Above and below: Haigh’s Chocolate Visitors Centre.

theaustralianworker 47


quick & easy recipes

come to dinner spinach & fennel salad

serves 6 prep time 5 minutes

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

150g bag baby spinach 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley 150g grape tomatoes, halved Dressing 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Toss together salad ingredients in a serving bowl. 2. Whisk together dressing ingredients and season to taste. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve.

cook

tip

• To make a mushy pea puree, add 3/4 cup extra stock and 1/4 cup cream and process in a blender or with a hand blender until coarsely pureed. Push through a sieve into a small saucepan and reheat.

mushy peas

serves 6 prep time 5 minutes cooking time 10 minutes 50g butter 1 onion, peeled, finely diced 4 cups (600g) frozen or fresh peas 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock

48 theaustralianworker

Rich flaky pastry and a hearty filling, served with mushy peas and a crisp salad. A winter dinner doesn’t get much better than this!

1. Heat butter in a small saucepan on low, until melted. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. 2. Add peas and stock. Increase heat, bring to boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes. Mash with potato masher and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

These recipes are from Australian Table magazine. For more fast and easy food ideas, see this month’s copy of the magazine – only $3.95 from Coles supermarkets and from newsagents.

www.awu.net.au


Having a winter dinner party? Here’s the perfect menu for a chilly Saturday night. recipes suzanne gibbs food prep lucy nunes photos ian wallace styling sarah o’brien

steak & mushroom pie

serves 6 prep time 20 minutes cooking time 3 hours

1.5kg beef chuck steak, cut into 3cm cubes ¹⁄3 cup (50g) plain flour ¼ cup (60ml) oil 2 onions, finely chopped 2 cups (500ml) beef stock or water 1 bouquet garni 300g button mushrooms, sliced 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed 1 egg, lightly beaten 1. Toss beef with flour until coated. Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium. Brown beef in batches for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. 2. Reduce heat to low, add onion to same pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until soft and lightly browned, adding a little more oil if necessary. Return

beef to pan with beef stock or water and bouquet garni. 3. Increase heat to medium until almost boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes. Discard bouquet garni, season well and pour into a 6-cup pie dish. Leave to cool completely. 4. Preheat oven to 225ºC or 215ºC fan. Roll out pastry until 3cm larger than top of pie dish. Dampen rim of dish with water. Cut a strip off pastry and press onto rim of dish. Brush with water and top with pastry, pressing edges together to seal. Trim edges, make a small slit in middle of pastry and decorate with pastry leaves, if using. Brush with egg. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 190°C or 170°C fan and bake for another 20 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden.

bread & butter pudding

serves 6 prep time 15 minutes cooking time 1 hour

10 slices white bread, crusts removed 50g soft butter ½ cup (80g) sultanas 3 eggs, lightly beaten ¹⁄3 cup (75g) sugar 2 tablespoons whisky or sherry ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1¾ cups (430ml) milk ¾ cup (80ml) cream 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon icing sugar, to dust 1. Preheat oven to 190ºC or 170ºC fan. Grease a 6-cup baking dish with butt er. Butter

bread and cut into triangles. Arrange in prepared dish and scatter with sultanas. 2. Whisk together eggs, sugar, whisky and nutmeg. Heat or scald milk and cream in a saucepan on low until almost at simmering point. Pour over egg mixture, whisking constantly. Strain over bread and set aside to soak for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. 3. Place pudding in a baking pan and pour in enough hot water to come half way up sides of pan. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Bread & butter pudding. The most comforting of winter desserts.

cook • A bouquet garni can be made by tying together with string

tip

a bay leaf, a few parsley sprigs and a sprig of thyme.

Sipping mulled wine on a cold night. Heaven!

mulled wine

serves 6 prep time 5 minutes cooking time 5 minutes 3 cups (750ml) red wine in a saucepan juice of 1 orange ¼ cup (55g) demerara sugar 1 bay leaf 1 cinnamon stick, halved ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg ¼ cup (60ml) gin (optional)

www.awu.net.au

orange slices and ground cinnamon, to serve 1. Place wine, juice, sugar, bay leaf, cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Add more sugar if desired. 2. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup (60ml) gin, if using. Strain into heat-proof glasses, top with a slice of orange and a dusting of cinnamon and serve at once.

theaustralianworker 49


looking at life

go on… make a

pig of yourself! If you want to achieve optimum health – take a lesson from Petal the pig. Our porky pals have plenty of tips on how to live life to the full – healthily and happily.

W

WRITTEN BY melissa sweet Photos Mitchell ward/getty images

Above: Petal the healthy porker.

“Petal carries herself with a beguiling mix of ungainly waddle and saucy swagger, with not a hint of “does my bum look big in this?” angst.” 50 theaustralianworker

hen I confess that I’ve fallen in love with a pig, people generally nod sympathetically. It’s not surprising really. Pigs have a rather unattractive reputation – after all, the cartoonists aren’t trying to be nice when they emphasise Peter Costello’s ears and other porcine features. It’s so unfair. Having watched our dear little piglet grow over the past 10 months into a dear, big porker, I can report that pigs are one of the loveliest of companions. If Petal is any guide, they are affectionate, curious, smart and endlessly entertaining creatures. And, believe it or not, they also have plenty to teach humans about healthy living. Maybe Petal is no ordinary pig (and doting me is quite prepared to concede this), but she knows more than many humans about how to eat. She enjoys her tucker immensely but also knows when she’s had enough. She quite often walks away from food, happy to leave it for later, when hunger calls. And she’s far from a slob. Petal has a whole vocabulary of grunts, but there are none so communicative as those towards the end of the day. It’s time for our walk, NOW, she demands. In fact, so much of Petal’s behaviour reminds me of what I learnt from the research literature

about the factors contributing to healthy eating and lifestyles, while writing a book about obesity. Research suggests that much of our intuitive response to the obesity epidemic has the potential to be counterproductive. Forcing children to eat their greens or to play sport is unlikely to be effective at creating lifelong healthy habits. And making children worried about their weight is just likely to end up giving them a problem, by encouraging weight-promoting eating patterns, such as dieting. Instead, we should be making it easier for people to discover their inner pigs. That means really enjoying delicious fresh produce – but also knowing when to stop eating and when to start moving. Petal, who lives next door to the vegetable patch, is particularly fond of spinach. Visitors quickly learn that the way to her heart is to pass handfuls of the stuff through the fence. Even a one-eyed pig lover such as myself will know that this is not necessarily a sign of inherent virtue. Petal has grown up alongside a bountiful spinach supply, learning to associate our visits and her tummy rubs with a leafy treat. It is entirely likely that if she lived next door to fast food joint, she’d be equally happy with greasy gifts. It’s a reminder that we are all, whether pig or human, products of our environments, as well www.awu.net.au


“... we should be making it easier for people to discover their inner pigs. That means really enjoying delicious fresh produce – but also knowing when to stop eating and when to start moving.” as our genes. While modern life makes it all too easy for humans to eat too much, especially of the wrong stuff, and walk too little, the same is sadly true for most modern pigs. Petal also reminds me that a healthy weight is about far more than such clinical measures as body mass index. It’s also about being comfortable in your own skin, and I’ve never seen a girl quite so comfortable with hers. Petal carries herself with a beguiling mix of ungainly waddle and saucy swagger, with not a hint of “does my bum look big in this?” angst. Petal is also a reminder of the value of the simple pleasures of life. There is much vicarious www.awu.net.au

pleasure to be had in watching a pig wallow luxuriously in her mudbath. And there’s nothing so hilariously absurd (unless you’re a small, terrified child, perhaps) as a pig thundering across the paddock towards you, her stiff-jointed gait flopping the big ears. Petal is always making us laugh. Well, almost always. It turns out there is some truth to at least one aspect of a piggish reputation. No-one is quite so pigheaded as a Petal up to her eyes in bits of the garden that definitely don’t need digging. ‘Pet’, as her nickname has inevitably become, is sometimes better known as ‘Petulant’! ◆

A good book… Melissa Sweet lives in rural NSW and is the author of The Big Fat Conspiracy: How To Protect Your Family’s Health (ABC Books. RRP $32.95). Melissa now wishes it was called “Eat Like A Pig, Enjoy Life More and Live Longer”.

theaustralianworker 51


meet the officials

Name

Bill Ludwig

STRONGER TOGETHER

Authorised by Bill Shorten, National Secretary, AWU

Job

AWU National President and Queensland Branch Secretary.

M

y uncles were shearers – my mother’s brothers – and we used to go out to Longreach on our school holidays and, of course, that was a bit of an experience that we liked. So when the time came (aged 15) I went out there and learned to shear. Then, in 1956 we had the big shearers’ strike (for 11 months in Queensland) and the guts of that was that the graziers’ association saw fit to put in an application – based on old evidence – to decrease our per-hundred (sheep) rate (of pay). Well, we didn’t think that was very fair because at that time the graziers were getting more money for their wool than they ever were in their life, so their incomes were going up and at the same time they wanted to bring ours down!” So we had a very bitter dispute and it certainly galvanized my view of employers, if you like, because there was everything unfair about that. That made me pretty active during that campaign. Every shed always had a rep, to represent the shearers and the shedhands, and I always seemed to have that job.” When I moved down to Victoria (in 1959), we started up the local committee at Hamilton and we were always active. I shore down there for about 10 years and moved back to Queensland in 1969, and that’s where Tommy Bradford, who was the South Western District Secretary, convinced me that I should become an official of the Union. I was the Organiser at Cunnamulla… then eventually became South Western District Secretary and then ultimately from there came down here (to Brisbane) as (State Branch) Secretary – it’s 20 years ago this year. In 1974 or ‘75 we ran an (Award) application in the Commission, because old Joh (former Queensland premier Bjelke-Petersen) wouldn’t change the Workers’ Accommodation Act –

52 theaustralianworker

Bill Ludwig

“It was absolutely atrocious how the graziers went on... ‘fancy giving shearers hot and cold showers and a soft mattress!’.”

And…

He became a shearer at the age of 15, an AWU Organiser in 1969 and Queensland Branch Secretary in 1988.

we never had hot showers or anything you know – it was terrible. We got hot and cold showers and septic toilets… it was absolutely atrocious how the graziers went on, they were complaining – ‘fancy giving shearers hot and cold showers and a soft mattress!’ – that’s what we were dealing with. Now they’re whinging because they can’t get workers. They’re competing with mining companies and construction companies that have got good accommodation – ensuites, television – and they’re still wanting to put shearers up in tin sheds. One of the difficulties we had over the years with the penalty rates, leave loading, shift allowances, long service leave – all of those things – was that we had to present a case to the Commission, and we had to prove that it wasn’t going to send the economy bust and all that. So with all of those wins we had over the years, along comes (former prime minister John) Howard, with the numbers in the Senate, and he doesn’t have to go and prove anything to anybody. He just wiped them out with the stroke of a pen. So the injustice and unfairness is still rife in the ranks of the Tories. The thing about being a trade union official is that you see a lot of injustice and unfairness and – if the law is as it should be – you can make an effective change to people’s working environment. The whole history came from the shearers strike in 1891 in Barcaldine, where they won some industrial gains, but they went to jail as well. And they realised then that you needed to change the law of the land. Ultimately, that was the motivation for the Labor Party – to get good, solid industrial relations laws.

Photo getty images

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www.awu.net.au


meet the delegates

Name

Marty Hilton

Job

AWU Delegate at One Steel’s Blast Furnace in Whyalla, where he works as an operator and chairs the consultative committee.

A

bout the second day after I started working at the Blast Furnace (in 1979), I signed up to join the Union. When I first started, there was a Union delegate on my shift and I saw the work he did, and then he changed shifts and they needed a delegate. I used to go to quite a few meetings with him and I got interested that way. In those days the conditions were really bad. At the Blast Furnace you get a lot of dusts such as ‘fines’ – graphite – floating around from the charging process. Now we’ve got a de-dusting system which minimises the fumes that were there before. And general things like people getting gloves and other safety equipment – things have changed a lot over the last 28 years because of the Union. One of the biggest issues now is drugtesting. The Union and I totally agree that you should go to work in a safe and reasonable condition. But if companies are really interested in safety then they should worry about fatigue.

w

And…

He is also a Vice President of the AWU’s Whyalla-Woomera Branch and Treasurer of the local Trades and Labour Council. He is also the local community’s official snake catcher!

Someone with young children and extra duties in the home where they find it difficult to get a good sound sleep can still go to work and do a 12-hour shift. They say you’ve got to be safe for work, but they won’t test for fatigue.

Fighting WorkChoices

Marty Hilton

Since the inception of WorkChoices the management’s attitude towards me really changed. I actually had two people sacked in this period after 15 or 16 years of being a delegate – they’re the only two I’ve lost. With WorkChoices, they wouldn’t tell us things. They changed the Bonus System and didn’t even consult with the unions. But now Labor’s in again, they let me know what’s going on and talk things through before they do it. It’s a completely different world now – a lot happier one. I went to lots and lots of meetings (for the Your Rights At Work campaign against WorkChoices). There was huge support – we had the churches there and different human rights groups and so on. When John Howard came to Whyalla, there was always a big turn-out.

Snakes alive!

Below: Marty in his snake catching role.

I’m a licensed snake catcher with National Parks and Wildlife. Most of the ones I do are in One Steel itself, but I do catch snakes around town as well. About 12 years ago I spent four days in intensive care after being bitten by one of my own Red-Bellied Black snakes… I’m a lot more careful now. At home I’ve got a dozen baby Children’s Pythons and about another 12 snakes. I also have 40 aviaries, with a couple of hundred birds as I breed them. Sometimes I tell people if they sign up to the Union I’ll catch snakes in their yard, and if they don’t sign up I’ll let them go in their yard! I said it as a joke once – this guy didn’t want to join because he said that the Union would help anyway… now he’s actually a very good member, an active member.

“With WorkChoices, they wouldn’t tell us things. They changed the Bonus System and didn’t even consult with the unions.”

www.awu.net.au

theaustralianworker 53


frontline news NATIONAL

National News Read about what YOUR union is doing for YOU...

n Virgin needs high

maintenance standards to ensure clean image

Richard Branson should demonstrate his commitment to the growth of Australian aviation by announcing the heavy maintenance of his aircraft will be done in this country, using Sydney as an international hub. “The arrival of V Australia to Sydney as a new international airline competitor is a welcome decision,” AWU National Secretary Paul Howes, said. “Australia needs to build new international air links to maintain a competitive position in the global marketplace.” “The AWU represents well-qualified and highly trained aircraft maintenance crews who would be eager to work on Virgin Blue’s extra aircraft operating out of Australia. Mr Branson can help ensure confidence in his air services by employing Australian-based aircraft maintenance workers. “We’re hoping the Virgin boss will demonstrate his commitment to employing and training Australians by working with our aircraft heavy maintenance people. “We have long argued that the use of off-shore maintenance crews, who do not have the same skill set as our members, undermines consumer confidence. “The AWU will be seeking an early meeting with Mr Branson’s management to discuss an agreement which ensures Virgin Blue’s heavy-aircraft maintenance is done here in Australia,” Paul said.

54 theaustralianworker

“The AWU represents well-qualified and highly trained aircraft maintenance crews...”

Richard Branson is launching V Australia. Photo fairfax

Rural workers cheer the end of AWAs Low-paid workers in the rural sector cheered when Parliament finally ended the most hated symbol of the WorkChoices era – the individual Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). “Rural workers had no choice when they were handed these AWAs as a condition of getting seasonal jobs in the agricultural sector. Thousands of rural and regional families found their wages and conditions severely cut by AWAs,” AWU National Secretary Paul Howes said. “The AWU now awaits the Fair Pay Commission’s minimum wages decision. Unscrupulous bosses won’t have AWAs as an excuse to avoid the sometimes measly pay increases awarded by the Commission to low-paid workers. “In one case we had members, working for a NSW-based mushroom farm, who were sacked when they questioned their AWAs. The employers reason for the sackings? They didn’t like their ‘attitude’,” Paul

said. “The workers had been forced out of an Award paying $17 an hour onto AWAs which provided piece-rate wage payments of between $8 and $11 an hour. Even though the previous government claimed AWA workers could not be paid below the safety net this $8 figure clearly undercut the minimum wage,” he said. “The employer continued to insist on these AWA contracts. The AWU has been forced into lengthy litigation to win wage justice. Low-paid workers, on their own, would have found the legal costs and time involved prohibitive. Without a union the employer may have got away with this injustice.” A ban on new AWAs will begin to restore the rights of workers taken away by the former Liberal government’s IR laws. The law to ban new AWAs is part of the first stage of the Rudd Government’s bid to overturn WorkChoices IR laws, unions say.

www.awu.net.au


frontline news QLD n Calling all Kiwis – AWU backs NZ unions’

general election campaign

At the end of this year New Zealand will have a general election. For New Zealand workers this coming general election will be important. The polls in NZ show a significant lead for the conservative NZ National Party. New Zealand unions are running a strong election campaign this year – but they want our help! They have asked the Australian Workers Union to support their campaign to get eligible New Zealand voters, based in Australia, enrolled to vote. The AWU wants to help union members who can vote in New Zealand to get onto the electoral roll and vote when the election is called. There are more than 100,000 New Zealanders in Australia who could have a vote in the upcoming election! New Zealanders working here in Australia can get enrolled by visiting the official Elections New Zealand website: www.elections.org.nz/ The New Zealand National Party is on record as wanting to do away with many rights and protections New Zealand workers have – including the right of appeal against unfair dismissal, elected health and safety reps and annual leave entitlements. In 2002, fewer than 20,000 overseas votes were cast and in 2005 fewer than 30,000. (Note, however, these NZ overseas voters in the 2002 and 2005 elections lived in places across the globe, not just here in Australia.) The New Zealand election will be close, so there is clearly a lot of scope to organise more NZ voters living here in Australia to vote for parties supported by the New Zealand union movement. The AWU will circulate more information about the NZ elections as they are provided to us by the NZCTU.

Queensland News Read about what YOUR union is doing for YOU...

Female construction workers at Gateway.

n Hard-hatted women Women in the construction industry have celebrated with festivities as part of a joint initiative between Construction Skills Queensland and the Queensland Government Office for Women at events held to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8. The week, which included events at TAFE colleges on the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba,

n AWU relieves hospital

Photo getty images

parking headache

www.awu.net.au

Richard Branson is launching V Australia.

The AWU has successfully sought the intervention of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to prevent Queensland Health implementing sham parking arrangements at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH). Queensland Health had plans to force staff to pay for parking at the new facility. The new system would have seen some workers forced to park off-site. This presented a potential health and safety issue for staff working shifts.

Brisbane, Acacia Ridge, Bracken Ridge and Salisbury, was aimed at recruiting women into the construction industry, which has suffered under the skills shortage. The photo above was taken at the Gateway Upgrade Project, which employs around seven women. Female workers are also employed on other major construction projects in the Brisbane area, including the Northern Bypass tunnel project and Boggo Road project.

As directed by the QIRC on February 28, staff will now be assured that those who have not been allocated parking within the new privatised facility will be free to park in other areas of the hospital free of charge. Previously staff were told by management that anyone parking in other areas of the site would face fines. AWU Southern District Secretary and Queensland Vice President Tom Jeffers has welcomed the outcome of the Commission hearing by saying, “Common sense has prevailed and our members can be assured of coming to and leaving from work in a safe and reasonable manner.” 

theaustralianworker 55


frontline news QLD

New Organiser Quan Chuc.

n Metals and construction

welcomes new recruit

AWU reps at Barcaldine – the birthplace of the Labor Party.

n Workplace reps gather

n Queensland miners

The photo above was taken at a reps’ training course over March 11-12 at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre in Barcaldine, Western Queensland. Barcaldine is not only famous for its Heritage Centre, but was also until recently the home of the Tree of Knowledge, under whose boughs the The Australian Labor Party was formed. Attending the Job Reps 2008 Course were Queensland AWU Training Officer Tegan Krarup (back row far left), and two students from the local high school who welcomed the group to Barcaldine and the Heritage Centre on the first day of the course. The reps attending the Barcaldine course were Queensland Health and local government employees based in Barcaldine and nearby areas such as Longreach, Tambo, Emerald, Winton, Infracombe and Barcoo. Tegan regularly travels around Queensland providing reps training courses for AWU workplace delegates from a range of industries, at various locations throughout the state.

The Queensland government has announced that it will hold an inaugural miners’ memorial day on September 19 to commemorate the lives of the 1450 miners who have died in mining tragedies across Queensland across three centuries. It was on this date in 1921 that 75 miners died in a coal-dust explosion in Mount Mulligan in far north Queensland. AWU Vice-President and Southern District Secretary Tom Jeffers attended the announcement of the inaugural Mining Day, where the union was acknowledged for its support for the initiative. “It is critical that safety of mining industry workers continues to be highlighted and it is fitting that a day be held to acknowledge those that have lost their lives on the job and who have helped make the industry the success it is today,” Tom said. The union will sit on a steering committee with government and industry representatives to organise the event. Some of the miners remembered include those who lost their lives in the Box Flat, Kianga, Collinsville and Moura mine tragedies. However, the day is designed to honour all Queensland miners.

at Labor’s birthplace

56 theaustralianworker

commemorated

“It was on this date in 1921 that 75 miners died in a coal-dust explosion at Mount Mulligan in far north Queensland.”

The Queensland Branch’s Metals and Construction Division has just expanded with the addition of new organiser, Quan Chuc. Vietnamese-born Quan came to Australia by boat as a young child with his nine siblings and parents and settled in Morningside in Brisbane. Quan began working at 17, became a member of the AWU, and by his early 20s was the union rep at a manufacturing company. After dealing first-hand with many workplace issues

n AWU health delegates

kick off 2008 enterprise bargaining campaign

Approximately 100 Queensland Health delegates and AWU officials from across Queensland gathered at the AWU’s Brisbane headquarters in March to attend a two-day conference to mark the start of the enterprise-bargaining campaign for operational staff. The AWU Queensland Health Operational Staff Conference 2008 was opened by AWU Queensland Secretary Bill Ludwig and Queensland Branch President Garry Ryan on March 27. It was the first of its kind to be held by the Union in Queensland. During the conference a number of AWU officials and industrial advocates spoke at length about the mechanisms of the enterprise-bargaining process, the need to engage members and potential members at a workplace level, and ways www.awu.net.au


frontline news QLD n Resort closure forces job during his time as rep, he relished the opportunity to become an AWU Organiser after being approached by the Metals and Construction Branch Secretary, Frank Chambers, in March this year. “I have always had a passion for helping people and have always felt strongly about workers getting a fair deal. By becoming an organiser, I can now help people at a grass-roots level,” Quan explained. Quan’s sense of workplace fairness will stand him in good stead in the area of metal and manufacturing, for which he will have responsibility. Quan hopes to build a better understanding of the vital role of the union in protecting workers rights – particularly among non-English speaking Australians. “One of my career goals is to help improve interactions between the union and people in the workplace that either speak no, or limited, English. Speaking Cantonese

and some Vietnamese, I hope to draw on my language skills to build a better understanding of why joining the union is so important, to increase union membership among non-English speaking Australians and encourage greater involvement in union activities.” Quan said, “In working with our Communications Officer, I’d like to see a range of materials developed in languages other than English. These could include membership forms, flyers and even a section of our monthly newsletter. This would help heighten awareness of how to contact the Union, occupational health and safety issues, workers’ compensation information and other benefits union membership offers.” After Quan’s orientation is complete he is looking forward to meeting and signing up as many new members as possible.

in which union membership can be encouraged. Bill Ludwig spoke about the vital role played by Queensland Health staff in the operational stream Health delegates across Queensland. at the Queensland conference. “On behalf of the Union, I am heartened to see such a strong turn-out of delegates at this conference from a number of public hospitals across the state,” he said. “Without the vital contribution of these people, the health system could not survive. In going away from this conference, it is hoped that delegates will recognise the need to stand collectively to ensure the best possible outcome for this campaign.” The next step in the EB process will be

the preparation of a log of claims which, after being collated, will be put out to members across the state. Subsequent meetings of operational staff will be held throughout the year as part of the campaign.

www.awu.net.au

losses on Great Keppel Island

“I have always had a passion for helping people and have always felt strongly about workers getting a fair deal.”

Devastating job losses have resulted from the unexpected closure of Great Keppel Island Resort on February 25. Employees were given only four weeks notice of the closure after being advised that the planned refurbishment of the existing resort had been abandoned in favour of a complete rebuild. This was in spite of the proposed plans neither being submitted to nor approved by council. Management rationalised the need for a complete rebuild of the resort in a press release by saying, “a refurbishment wouldn’t do the island justice” and that “a complete rebuild of a new luxury resort was the only way to move forward”. While holidaymakers with existing bookings at the resort were promised full refunds, former staff on the island have not been so lucky. With the building of the new resort not due to begin until next year, many of the 80-plus staff have been left without alternative employment. The resort is the main employer on the island. AWU Organiser Paul Robertson has condemned the decision to close the island resort at such short notice. “Despite assurances from management that employees would receive assistance in finding alternative employment, most workers have not yet found new jobs on either the mainland or on other Whitsunday islands. We still have no confirmed starting date for the building of the new resort either, but it is predicted that it is at least 18 months away. “Management didn’t even ensure staff received their final pays in an expedient manner, with most employees not being paid until well after being terminated,” Mr Robertson said. It is expected that the closure will have a flow-on effect to private businesses and ferry operators on the island that relied on holidaymakers to drive their businesses.  theaustralianworker 57


frontline news QLD The AWU remembers Desi Enright.

Married only shortly before his death, Desi is remembered fondly by his former colleagues for his keen sense of loyalty and for pioneering the way forward for entitlements such as superannuation and redundancies in the construction industry. n Dave Evans farewelled

n AWU remembers Edward

“Desi” Enright

AWU Metals and Construction District Secretary Frank Chambers and officials marked the 16th anniversary of the death of former FIA President Edward “Desi” Enright. To mark the occasion, Frank and district officials visited the Mt Gravatt Lawn Cemetery to pay their respects to the former FIA boss, who died after a short illness aged only 50. Hailing from Kurakai in New South Wales, Desi had a career in football before travelling to Gladstone in Queensland the late 1960s where he began working in construction and later became FIA union rep. Edward went on to become an official at the FIA and Union President, prior to the FIA’s amalgamation with the AWU.

n Techs at Cairns hospital

are born again

Much-respected retiring AWU staff member Dave Evans will certainly relish the opportunity to put his feet up after a colourful career spanning 60 years. After leaving school at 14, Dave worked in a variety of jobs such as building furniture, picking pineapples and shearing for a number of years before first coming to the AWU in May 1967. After a stint at the Union’s former Queensland Dunstan House headquarters, Dave left to pursue other career options before returning to the AWU as a cleaner in almost 16 years ago, when the AWU moved in to its new premises in Adelaide Street, Brisbane. “I’ve seen quite a few changes in my time at the Union, including a few different branch secretaries and presidents,” Dave admits. He says that he first struck up his friendship with the present AWU Queensland Branch Secretary and National President when working at Dunstan House. “When

Anaesthetic technicians score a victory.

The anaesthetic technicians at Cairns Base Hospital have celebrated their first anniversary of being reclassified into the operational stream. “Like most births, this was a long and difficult time for all of us. But the outcome was well worth the wait,” says AWU Workplace Representative Rebecca Morris. The techs had a three-year wait from when they first applied for reclassification to when it finally eventuated. “We’re relieved to be over that first hurdle,” Rebecca said. “Our aim now is to further progress recognition of our qualifications through ongoing negotiations between the AWU and Queensland Health.” Senior technician Kathy Kenny believes that the reclassification issue

58 theaustralianworker

the union moved into its new offices in Adelaide Street, Bill said to me, ‘you’d better come and work for us again’, so I did,” Dave explains. After such a diverse career, Dave is looking forward to not only getting more “R and R” during his retirement but is also looking forward to travelling. Dave sets off for a two-month jaunt overseas in June when he will travel to Wales. Bill paid tribute to Dave’s contribution and commitment to the organisation at a retirement farewell and presentation on March 19. “Today we recognise the loyalty and dedication that Dave has shown the AWU during his time with us. Not only will Dave be remembered by his colleagues for his diligence in performing his job, but his strong sense of humour will also be greatly missed,” Bill acknowledged. Wayne Krarup, Dave Evans and Bill Ludwig at Dave’s farewell gathering.

first began over seven years ago when they obtained their diploma of anaesthetic technology. “We realised then that we were working in a specialised field, so we tried to gain skills recognition in the stream we were in at the time,” she said. After several setbacks the technicians approached Cairns AWU Organiser David Groessler for his help. “At that stage the techs had been pursuing this issue for a number of years without any success,” David says. “They need to be congratulated for sticking together throughout this whole time. It shows that staying united will bring better results than going it alone.” The AWU has been progressing a review with Queensland Health of the role and duties of anaesthetic technicians throughout EB6, and there has been significant progress made on many of the issues in the terms of reference.

www.awu.net.au


frontline news NSW n Hero’s memories for sale

NSW News

A statue immortalises the Australian working-class hero, Jackie Howe.

www.awu.net.au

Photo newspix

Jackie Howe’s shearing ability earned him the monicker the “Bradman of the Boards”. Now he can also be known as the “$360,000 Man”. In May the memorabilia on one of Australia’s great working-class heroes, Jackie Howe, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in Melbourne for the incredible amount of $360,000. Jackie’s memorabilia, including many Union-related items, went for over 10 times the anticipated price. Jackie Howe helped to found both the AWU and the ALP in Queensland. As a “gun” shearer, he set a record for shearing 321 sheep with blade shears. His time? Seven hours and 40 minutes – and this record still stands today –116 years later. AWU Secretary Paul Howes said that the Union had thought about purchasing the memorabilia, so much a part of the Union’s history, but the bidding went way too high. “We sat back and watched and admired how much Australians valued such an important part of our political and social history,” Paul said.

Read about what YOUR union is doing for YOU...

GrainCorp Delegate Peter Quirk (centre) with colleagues.

n Collective Gains At

GrainCorp

“We sat back and watched and admired how much Australians valued such an important part of our political and social history.”

Against a backdrop of a devastating drought, a management costreduction program of over $10 million per annum, closure of 85 sites, falling profits and the roller-coaster ride of the sharemarket, AWU delegates have successfully negotiated a collective agreement with GrainCorp. GrainCorp was quick to utilise WorkChoices two years ago with the introduction of a greenfields agreement for casual workers that removed weekend shift penalties and stopped payrolldeduction of union fees. The new collective agreement has resulted in: • Achieving rural industry standard of 3.5 per cent per annum wage increases; • Wage increases back paid to October 2007; • Casuals receiving penalty rates for weekend work;

• Casual conversion to permanent clause after six months; and, • The return of payroll deductions. Glenn Seton, AWU Vice President said, “If the heavens open up for us and we have some decent rainfalls, we could see up to 1000 casual workers benefiting from the new agreement.” Peter Quirk, AWU GrainCorp delegate and Branch Executive member said, “I am particularly happy with the casualconversion clause. It builds job security, which is lacking in regional Australia.” AWU NSW Secretary Russ Collison said, “Congratulations to the AWU negotiating team. It’s a great outcome given the circumstances facing rural Australia. Job security, good wage increases, the return of penalty rates and union fee deductions were all removed under Howard’s WorkChoices. With the election of the Rudd Labor government we are finding that fairness and equity is returning to negotiations.”  theaustralianworker 59


frontline news NSW

AWU members rally in Sydney.

n Sparks fly over NSW

electricity privatisation

Unions protested against the privatisation of electricity on Tuesday, February 26, by gathering in Macquarie Street outside NSW Parliament House. AWU members marched from RTA offices in Elizabeth Street, along College Street into Macquarie Street. And, to ensure the AWU voice was heard, Nick Allen, Greater NSW Branch Assistant Secretary, led the chants on the loud speaker. AWU NSW Secretary Russ Collison

“No one wants to see privatisation of electricity. Show me one privatisation that has actually worked.”

said, “No one wants to see privatisation of electricity. Show me one privatisation that has actually worked. Prices increase, workforces cut, apprenticeships reduced and the only beneficiaries are the off-shore owners and overseas call centres. It doesn’t make sense and we will be taking this fight to the NSW ALP Conference!” Russ says Chester Kezik, AWU member, has it right. Chester said, “Society is not losing its humanity, we’re selling it off. We are gifting corporations the right to decide who has the right to warmth and comfort.”

Safety is paramount Dr Yossi Berger, AWU National Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Unit Director, on a recent visit to Sydney examined OH&S issues facing workers. First stop was Cronulla Golf Club. He didn’t play a round of golf but he did get around the new amenities block. Workers are concerned about the chemical storage, drainage and indoor storage of fuel tanks. AWU delegate John Vourliotis said, “It’s great seeing someone of Yossi’s expertise here. We’re impressed with him at the annual delegates conference, but it’s great having him here working through the issues.” Stephen Bali, AWU Vice President said, “Yossi supports AWU officials by providing a fresh set of eyes to look over problems. We can contact him and get updates on the latest research and outcomes of OHS inspections.”

60 theaustralianworker

Dr Yossi Berger, right, with workers at Cronulla.

Russ Collison, AWU NSW Secretary, said, “The AWU local branch and the national office work together to deliver the best outcomes for our members. Dr Yossi Berger best demonstrates this collaboration when he brings his experience and expertise to the workplace.”

Port Kembla News n AWU Port Kembla takes

a win for workers

The Australian Workers Union, Port Kembla branch, was successful in winning a dispute against the Coded Products company that employs AWU members in Spring Hill, NSW. The dispute concerned the company’s proposal to rationalise its classification structure in relation to the Mechanical Trades Assistants (MTAs) in the company’s painting and finishing department. Because AWU production employees had taken industrial action, the company insisted that the Union had not complied with dispute resolution procedure (DRP). The company tried to push through the rationalised classification structure, using the failure to comply with DRP as reason to void the status quo provisions in it, which would have frozen the MTA structure at the pre-dispute classification. The branch representatives spent two days having the matter arbitrated in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC). The Union argued that AWU production employees had a separate career path from the MTAs. For this reason, industrial action taken by one should not affect status quo protections available to others in the DRP. The commission found that any industrial action taken by production employees should not compromise the rights available to MTAs under their award because the career structures are separate and distinct. The DRP had been complied with by the Union and the status quo operated, in relation to MTA rationalisation. The AWU was proud of this victory and the successful outcome for its workers. www.awu.net.au


frontline news NSW/ViC n Five-minute flashes newcastle News

Towards a smarter Hunter The AWU expects the Rudd Labor government to support initiatives which promote smart manufacturing for the Hunter region. “The Hunter Region 2020 conference, hosted by local federal MPs Greg Combet and Jill Hall, was told the AWU trusts that this Labor government understands the Hunter’s need for the creation of good, quality jobs with a long-term future,” says Kevin Maher, AWU Newcastle and Northern area Secretary. “The AWU is investing a lot in campaigning over the coming months and years for a decent program to support regional Australia’s future. We need a wholesale review on how to develop major regional centres such as the Hunter so that we can move past that boom-or-bust mentality.” Kevin attended the regional 2020 and said, “Sydney is full to capacity – the cost of housing is astronomical and there is a real crisis in the provision of water and transport and health care. The solution is to have the Federal and State Government support the creation of job growth and population growth in the Hunter area. “We need to develop new techniques, procedures and technology and see these innovations established in our region,” he said. “Manufacturing is about supplying new products and much of this could come from local research and development at our university, among our current industries... if the federal and state government provided appropriate incentives and support. We also need to campaign for investment into our traditional Hunter industries. Kevin concluded, “Government investment in older workplaces needs to be based on strategic thinking about long-term needs, not just throwing cash at a flailing manufacturer. We believe in clever, green, sustainable manufacturing – one that caters for today and thinks about tomorrow.” n Steel city celebration In September we will be holding a reunion to bring the “Men and Women of Steel” back together again to talk about the past and the future. The Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association will hold the 9th BHP Reunion on Saturday, September 27 at 12.30pm at the Mayfield Sport and Rec Club, Crebert Street, Mayfield, 2304. This year we are presenting a special guest, country and western singer Mel Sommers, who will perform his song Steel City Country. OneSteel Employees and former BHP Newcastle Contractors are invited. For further inquiries contact Aubrey 024984526. www.awu.net.au

has turned feral in the Commission by The Good stopping a dispute hearing. • AWU and Unions NSW are campaigning to WorkChoices continues to frustrate the improve maternity leave. The policy calls for unions and workers as Viridian lawyers 26-week minimum wage support by the argue that any disputed matters cease Federal Government. The future of Australia with the implementation of a new is dependent upon what we do today for collective agreement. AWU lawyers are young mums. examining this and will be reporting on The Bad the outcome in the next edition. • Redundancies continue to plague the • Western Sydney Institute of TAFE is manufacturing sector. With the rising undertaking a class-support review. Australian dollar, skill shortages and no real Many class-support workers are manufacturing policy developed under 11 members of the AWU but the TAFE has years of the Howard government, it will take failed to include either the AWU or a concerted effort by the new Rudd Labor workers in discussions to date. government to improve Australian • Alinta management has decided that manufacturing. The latest round of facial hair is to be removed when wearing redundances includes: Alcoa (Yennora) 130; gas masks. The workers can’t see the Sony (Blacktown) 20; Sims Plastics 12; problem since they undertake a seal test Spicer Axle 120. prior to entering a gas environment. Once The Ugly again, all the AWU and workers want is • Viridian, formerly Pilkington Glass, which some consultation, not lectures from saw its Australasian assets sold off to CSR, management. The dispute continues…

Victorian News Read about what YOUR union is doing for YOU...

n Steel giant pays up BlueScope Steel ordered to pay compensation to two brothers for their illegal termination. The Australian Industrial Relations Commission awarded the maximum amount of compensation allowable to Sean Claypole, while a hearing is pending on the amount that will be paid to Jason Claypole. AWU Victorian Secretary Cesar Melhem said the cases highlighted the extent that some employers will go to in order to sack and humiliate dedicated hard-working union members. Cesar said the AWU had stood with the brothers throughout their fight, incurring the

costs for their representation by the union’s solicitors. He said BlueScope had started a crusade against workers receiving WorkCover payments, sacking five in quick succession. Two of these workers settled their cases, one was reinstated and the Claypole brothers have now won compensation. “We believe the brothers were targeted because they had raised concerns about the management style of their supervisor,” Cesar said. Jason and Sean had worked for BlueScope Steel for 10 and seven years respectively prior to their termination. The AIRC acknowledged that the job they performed was “physically demanding and, anecdotally, work-related injuries were not uncommon  theaustralianworker 61


frontline news VIC for those engaged in the work”. Jason suffered lower-back, shoulder, neck and leg injuries during his employment, while Sean suffered shoulder injuries. In early 2007, both brothers had medical certificates and return-to-work plans which stipulated restrictions on how much they could lift. After BlueScope Steel had the brothers secretly filmed on a holiday over the 2007 Australia Day weekend, the company employed doctors to watch the surveillance, with a view to concluding (without physically examining the brothers) whether they had misrepresented their injuries. BlueScope sacked the Claypoles for misconduct in mid 2007. However, the AIRC, which heard the cases separately, has now found in favour of both brothers. In Jason’s case, the AIRC found the evidence “established his (shoulder) injury and that it was likely to cause him pain, discomfort, restriction and incapacity”. It also found that “[Jason] … had no motive to lie – he was not receiving weekly payments of compensation to stay at home … There was no financial gain to be obtained by lying about his symptoms. His only benefit resulting from the injury was continued access to physiotherapy. It is inherently unlikely… that he would lie about his condition in order to submit himself to a regime of exercise and physiotherapy sessions.” In the case of Sean Claypole, the AIRC found Sean had “suffered a grave injustice by reason of the circumstances that he was not guilty of the misconduct for which his employment was terminated. The decision to terminate his employment was unreasonable also because BlueScope did not properly investigate Mr Claypole’s physical restrictions following upon its suspicions as to the improvement in his capacity.” As to BlueScope Steel’s course of action, the AIRC held that, “it set a more devious course of surveillance in what appears to have been an endeavour to avoid any WorkCover liability to which it may have been exposed.” 62 theaustralianworker

n AWU members first

“The doublecross would have cost our members thousands, which is no small matter when they work 45-hour weeks and take home $49,000.”

David Allison, left, with Cesar Melhem.

past the post

After bringing five harness race meets to a standstill, 13 AWU stewards have claimed victory in their pay dispute. The stipendiary stewards took lawful industrial action in April, initially working to rule for a week and then going on strike. The stewards are the first in Australia ever to have taken industrial action. The dispute arose after they were double-crossed by Harness Racing Victoria, which had reneged on an in-principle enterprise agreement. AWU racing organiser John-Paul Blandthorn said the in-principle agreement would have given the stewards an immediate pay rise, which would have been compounded with wage rises in July and August and in following years. He said HRV had then backed down from that agreement, telling the AWU it would delay the first instalment in the stewards’ wages for a year until next February. “The double-cross would have cost our members thousands, which is no small matter when you consider they work 45-hour weeks and are lucky if they take home $49,000. Harness Racing Victoria was keen to reach an agreement in February because they were stressing that the Inter Dominion might be disrupted by industrial action. “When that race was run, they pulled the rug but they underestimated the unity of these men,” he said. Led by senior steward David Allison, the stewards initially took industrial action in the form of hour-long meal breaks, which forced the abandonment of races at Horsham, Ballarat and Geelong and the delay of a Maryborough race. The dispute was brought to a head when the stewards took strike action at a Kilmore race meeting, holding a mass meeting on the track and disrupting the first race. The Australian Industrial Relations Commission called both parties to an urgent hearing that afternoon, and issued a recommendation that

both parties had agreed to accept. John-Paul said the recommendation stipulated that the stewards receive half of a wage increase stemming from their reclassification in May and the other half in September. These payments were in addition to their 3.25 per cent wage increase, effective from April 22. “If HRV had had its way, the stewards would not have received the full effect of those wage increases until February next year,” John-Paul said. He said the AIRC had also recommended that the stewards receive a sign-on payment equivalent to the amount they would have achieved if the agreement had operated from March 14. n AWU confronts Victorian

government

The AWU is playing a leading role in the Victorian government’s independent review into the state’s workers’ compensation laws. AWU Victorian Secretary Cesar Melhem is part of the review’s Stakeholder Reference

AWU champions The AWU is helping the dreams of its members’ children come true, with the Victorian Branch sponsoring Tayla Brown to compete in the International Junior Taekwondo Championships in Turkey. AWU Victorian Secretary Cesar Melhem said the AWU was proud to support Tayla, the 16-year-old daughter of staunch AWU Smorgon Steel Laverton

www.awu.net.au


frontline news SA Group, which is meeting regularly to provide input into the review. The review is looking into changes to the laws, which are covered by the Accident Compensation Act, which dates back to 1985. The AWU is pushing for several substantial changes including: • Entitlements to be expressed in days as well as weeks. Currently, any entitlement paid within a calendar week (for example, even one half-hour) counts as a week of entitlement used up. This is particularly unfair on injured workers who have a series of brief absences early in their claim. • Average overtime and shift earnings to be included in the ongoing definition of PIAWE – pre-injury average weekly earnings. Many workers now depend on regular overtime and shift earnings to make up their regular income (sometimes more than 50 per cent of their total income) so it is unjust to drop these from PIAWE after 26 weeks. • The insurer and/or the employer are to continue to pay super contributions for injured workers, directly to the nominated super fund. Why should injured workers miss out on their superannuation contributions? • Entitlements are also to be ongoing while an incapacity continues to affect the injured worker. The current test at 130 weeks is harsh. Ongoing weekly payments should be paid until one of the following conditions is met: until the claim is settled at common law; until the worker is no longer incapacitated; or until the worker turns 65. Cesar said AWU members needed to ready themselves to campaign for the law changes later this year and into next year, adding “Employers have benefited from lower workers comp premiums over the past five years – it’s time for workers to get a fairer deal.”

another young fighter delegate Ian Brown. “Ian is like so many of our members – he has worked hard throughout his life to make sure that his kids Taekwondo have all the opportunities in champ Tayla with her dad Ian. the world,” Cesar said. “We are pleased to be able to support a member of the AWU family in achieving their goals and we wish Tayla all the best in this gruelling competition.”

www.awu.net.au

South Australian News n WorkCover is the BIG issue The Rann government in South Australia has allowed itself to be pressured by the bosses, to make changes to SA Workers’ Compensation law. In responding to this pressure, Mike Rann claims he needs to address the WorkCover Corporation’s unfunded liability which is about $911 million. “What is not being said is that the scheme is 65 per cent funded,” said AWU SA Secretary, Wayne Hanson, speaking out against changes to SA WorkCover. Wayne said that Premier Mike Rann also draws a comparison between his unfunded liability and the SA State Bank disaster, where the bank went belly-up after losing $3 billion. “A WorkCover disaster could only occur if all claims were called in on the same hour and on the same day,” Wayne said. “Obviously this will never happen. The argument is nonsense. “If Mike Rann and his government were genuinely trying to address the problem of an unfunded liability, why would they reduce the premiums paid by the bosses? Shouldn’t the premiums remain as they are until the issue is addressed?” Wayne said that Rann’s other claim is that he is only bringing the SA legislation in line with other Labor states. “To do this Rann has gone to Victoria and picked up Liberal Jeff Kennett’s workers’ compensation law, ‘fine-tuned’ it by deleting workers’ access to common law and then pinned a South Australian Labor badge to it,” Wayne said. “This means, for example, if a worker is injured or maimed at work through the clear negligence of a South Australian boss they could not sue under common law, whereas you can in Victoria and most other states.

“South Australia had the best workers’ compensation legislation in Australia, but after Rann and his mates have ‘fine tuned’ it, we will have the worst. Here we have a Labor government trashing its genuine Labor values, axing injured workers’ entitlements and not learning the lessons that John Howard learnt on 24 November, 2007. Any Labor government that behaves this way deserves the same fate.” Wayne said. The AWU valued dearly the great work that former AWU South Australian Secretary Jack Wright did as WorkCover minister when he drafted workers’ compensation legislation which sought to look after injured workers and their families. Jack Wright was the architect of the best workers’ compensation legislation in Australia, his WorkCover laws extended a helping hand to many injured workers’ families, some of them among the most disadvantaged. “Now we find that the great work Jack did for injured workers and their families is being trashed,” Wayne said. “Not by the Liberals, as you would expect, but by the State Labor government.” This situation is even more difficult to comprehend when we note that the composition of the current parliamentary Labor caucus in South Australia includes a dozen or more former trade union employees, some of whom were union secretaries. “These are colleagues who, in our eyes, should have known better,” Wayne said. “We wonder how many workers today will continue to look up to these people as Labor politicians. It is our hope that the damage done by Rann Labor will not prove to be terminal to real Labor.”  theaustralianworker 63


frontline news SA, WA & TAS

Tasmanian News n God’s delegate

fronts to save hospital

Reverend Jim Webster has asked the Tasmanian government to show a little more God’s on our side: AWU supporter love to the AWU’s Reverend Jim Webster. mining membership, campaigning to defend their local community hospital. A large AWU contingent flew the Union’s flag when they joined busloads of Tasmania’s West Coasters going to Hobart in a show of solidarity for the Rosebery community hospital. The miners in the district, along with their families, have played a prominent role in the campaign. “Hours after the rally, the Rosebery Hospital Action Group, met with the Tasmanian Government and we walked away with important promises to improve the embattled hospitals services,” Ian Wakefield, AWU Tasmania Secretary, said. The Reverend Jim Webster, a former AWU member and senior delegate, has put his weight behind the campaign by speaking at the rally. “Reverend Jim was an AWU member when he worked at Copper Mines of Tasmania, and was a great senior delegate. He is still a top supporter and still proudly wears an AWU cap,” Ian said. “Like a lot of AWU miners I was a Rosebery resident for 15 years, my own children had often needed out-of- hours medical help when we lived on the West Coast. It is unbelievable this is happening at a time when the mining industry is booming.” When Reverend Jim Webster addressed hundreds of West Coast residents at the Hobart rally, he told the them how a month before he had a heart failure he was forced to wait for more than an hour until the region’s only paramedic trained to travel with patients arrived. Mandy Streets, whose husband is a miner and lives in Rosebery, said her husband had been given the “run- around” by after-hours phone service, but it was Reverend Webster who stirred everyone, telling them that West Coast people deserved better. “Love is putting out the helping hand to help others. Love comes into everything. Goodness and kindness, it’s basic stuff,” the former AWU senior delegate and now Anglican priest said. 64 theaustralianworker

West Australian News n Wesfarmers and AWU

back on the rails

Union workers at Wesfarmers’ Kwinana Depot, just south of Perth, have won a 23 per cent wage increase after 12 months of negotiations between the AWU and the company. The Wesfarmers Depot has produced LPG with two trains up to this point. Now another train has been added for LNG production, which is due for commissioning shortly. The new collective agreement covers 22 AWU members who wanted to achieve better conditions after they compared their own workplace rights with other AWU collective agreements in the area. The new three-year agreement provides

for a 13 per cent pay rise in the first year and two subsequent increases of 5 per cent. Eight per cent of the first increase will be backdated to July 2007 and the following increases will be paid in October 2008 and October 2009. “It has been a long road to success at Wesfarmers,” AWU West Australian Assistant Secretary Stephen Price said. “Following about 12 months of negotiations between the members, the AWU and Wesfarmers management, a raft of concerns of the members were overcome. “The negotiations were generally conducted in a spirit of cooperation and a good outcome for all parties was achieved,” Stephen said.

Pressure rising to ditch mining AWAs Union members in WA have been ringing the branch office wanting to know how they can get rid of their hated AWAs now that the Rudd Labor government has been elected. “We’ve been getting calls almost every day. We’ve got approaches from different areas of the mining industry including mineral sands, iron ore and the goldfields,” AWU West Australian Assistant Secretary Stephen Price said. “Members ringing are talking to us about their concerns about slipping workplace-safety standards and they want to see working conditions lost during the Howard years now returned.” The WA branch has contacted mining companies to talk to them about the new laws, the end of AWAs and the need for discussions and negotiations

about the introduction of new workplace rights. Approaches have also been made to all of the major labour-hire agencies. “The responses we’ve got have varied. Some just slam the door in our face – rejecting any idea of open discussions. “A small number seem to appreciate we have entered a new era, once the vote was counted ending the Howard government, because Australian’s just didn’t like his workplace laws.” Stephen said there are real opportunities to reverse the tide of recent years because of the massive competition for labour in the West. “A strong and growing Union membership which is committed to winning workplace rights can make important gains in the current environment,” Stephen said.

www.awu.net.au


Differences in picture 2: Chimney missing, windmill blade missing, flowers on Joyce’s apron missing, chicken on tractor missing, Ringer’s leg (standing not waving), extra horn on goat, tractor lights missing, pig’s tail missing, front part of tractor missing, verandah post missing and Digger’s shirt buttons missing.

KIDS’ PAGE

B

indi the lorikeet and Ringer the sheep are visiting their old mate Digger and his wife, Joyce, at their farm. Our artist, Myles, has drawn two pictures of Bindi & Ringer’s visit to the farm, but you’ll find that there are some tricky differences between them. Can you spot the differences? Once you have, you can colour in both scenes.

www.awu.net.au

1

can you 2 spot the differences between the 2 pictures? theaustralianworker 65


GRUMPY BASTARD

just... don’t

Our resident grump has been through the wringer and come out with more than just an attitude adjustment. While he’s grumpier than ever, he’s also got a wake-up call for us all. WRITTEN BY kevin airs Photo getty images

G

OD, I love smoking. I miss it so badly. Every inhale, every exhale. Every stubbed out butt, every burnt fingertip. The tainted smell of my clothes, the contempt of non-smokers – I loved it all. And now it’s gone. Outside the window, I can still see my now-disused but still overflowing ashtray, spilling its spent delights, a last reminder of the joy I once knew. See, those warnings on the cigarette packets… they’re not a lie. Smoking does actually kill. Who knew? And what’s more, it almost killed me. Now I knew smoking wasn’t a passport to longevity, but taking me 20 years earlier than even I anticipated was too soon. The feeling of your life slipping away while clutching your chest does wonders for focussing the mind. Cigarettes rarely rate high on your list of priorities at times like that. The very real danger that your next smoke may actually kill you, stone dead, on the spot, right there and then, is a good motivator, too. Much as I miss it, I now know I’d miss living out the rest of my life more. “The very real danger that your next smoke may kill you, stone dead, on the spot… is a good motivator.”

66 theaustralianworker

Tell people their very next cigarette will kill them and a helluva lot more people would find the will power to give up. Anyway, I’m into the second day of being a non-smoker and my grumpiness has reached never before seen levels. Unfortunately, as a result, I’ve also lost a bit of focus, too. So prepare for a scattergun of wrath...! Memo to China: Thugs in a tracksuit are thugs in a tracksuit. The very fact that your Olympic torch needed bodyguards in the first place should have been an indication that something was very wrong. Sort it out like you promised, and take a lesson from the Dalai Lama while you’re at it. TV chiefs – Big Brother is done. It’s over. NOBODY CARES. Few did to begin with, but even teenage schoolgirls don’t want to watch it anymore. Surely someone noticed that adding a belly-dancing dwarf and some sort of eunuch into the house might just be an act of desperation? What’s next, the bearded lady and a two-headed boy? Oh look, a dancing bear! No, wait, hang on – that’s just Kyle Sandilands… And just out of interest, how the hell does he get work? What dirt does he have on someone high up in TV land? And can anyone please sell him a second facial expression? The stunned mullet thing is just dull. Wayne Swan – good work on the budget and that mate… but… stop speaking… in short… easily edited… by radio… soundbites… you don’t… sound like… Tony Blair… just like you… are on… sedatives. And Namesake (Kev)… stop fiddling with your glasses (self-deprecating smile) while talking to everyone (head tilt). It’s not endearing anymore, it’s patronising and smug. Just stick to coming up with your good policies please. But let’s face it – at least he’s only got Brendan Nelson to outshine. The bloke looks like a reject from an ‘80s afternoon daytime soap and you can’t get too scared of a Liberal leader who once protested that he’d never voted Liberal. So, in summary, don’t vote Liberal, ever. Don’t watch Big Brother. Don’t go to the Olympics. Kyle Sandilands – just don’t. And do not smoke. These are all absurdly, utterly, utterly stupid things to do. And I know. My life depends on it. www.awu.net.au


The Australian Worker Magazine Issue 2 2008