Stop job losses!
Qantas, ANZ, Bonds, Alcoa, Air Australia, Sleep City, Caltex, Westpac, Macquarie Bank, are cutting hundreds of jobs each.
The cost of reallocating labour from some companies and industries should not be placed on individual workers. Reallocation of productive resources and jobs should be on the grounds of social need not profit, and without loss of income to workers. If less labour is needed to satisfy needs, then we should all be able to work less hours for the same pay, and maintain our standard of living.
Instead the whole labour force lives with the threat of unemployment. We need unions to stand for:
• shorter hours with no loss of pay to share work around
• guaranteed living wage for all
• public sector jobs for all who need them, at union wages
• higher taxes on business profits and top incomes
• nationalise the finance industry
The security this would give workers could embolden the labour movement to insist that work is meaningful and socially beneficial, instead of driven by profit whatever the cost to the environment or people’s well-being.
Defend NSW public sector
A deficit of $310-million is predicted for NSW in 2012-13. The government is now more determined to cut the public sector.
Unions held large angry rallies in 2011 against O’Farrell’s 2.5% pay cap for public sector workers, backed by penalties for industrial action, and stripped down rights for redundant workers.
But O’Farrell was only setting up for extensive public sector cuts, which are just beginning, and which unions should be mobilising to resist. Recent media reports point to the following:
• the move against NSW Rail is being prepared, and drastic staff cuts are an immediate threat and likely precursor to privatisation
• wholesale privatisation of jails is on the agenda, despite token denials, and the prospect of creation of a significant for-profit convict labour force
• a resurgence of privatisation of hospitals & health services is on the cards
• ferry privatisation and subsequent job losses sound like a fait accompli
• national funds previously guaranteed to TAFE are open for bidding including by for-profit providers, and TAFE students face a sharp increase in fees imposed through a loans scheme
• “local decisions for local schools” increases hire and fire power of principals, decentralises and enables cutting of school budgets, and undermines staffing of disadvantaged public schools.
Unions appear to be allowing the government to get away with closing Cronulla Fisheries, and moving to the end game in the privatisation of the NSW electricity sector. The labour movement overrode the Labor government, resisting this sector's privatisation, but now all there is on the Unions NSW campaign-page on the issue is a petition and lobbying campaign.
Similar policies are being enforced by governments, whether Labor or Liberal, around the country (and even more drastically in Greece, see p 3-4). The Commonwealth pay cap is 3%. In Tasmania a minority Labor government dependent on the Greens has set a pay cap. No union has yet effectively broken these restrictive wages policies.
The union rallies in 2011 were well supported with 40,000 attending in September. But they were backed by very limited industrial action, and were much smaller than the rallies and strikes of 1991 that forced a backdown on cuts from the Greiner Government.
There is no sign of preparation for any follow up series of rolling industrial actions this year despite union officials stated plans in 2011.
The NSW Teachers Federation has accepted a pay rise of 2.5% for both schools and TAFE, despite a claim backed by a ballot for industrial action by TAFE teachers via the federal system and so outside the NSW laws. Other union leaderships such as the PSA appear to be waiting for mid-2012 for the next big action. This is meant to coincide with the expiration of a number of public sector salary awards.
The critical points for the public sector unions in NSW are to stand against the 2.5% salary cap, to refuse to make trade-offs, accept job losses, privatisations or abide by industrial penalties. Activists need to campaign to commit their own unions to industrial action to assert this stand.
This commitment could be strengthened by a revival of independent activist networks across NSW unions.
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