(OT?) Australia - Strikes spread throughout Victoria

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This article is posted for general awareness.
Please note the JIT delivery problem impacting on the car manufacturing scene.
Also take note of Justice comments - the powers he mentions are sweepingly real. I'll table them later. The Bracks Labor Government's troubles are inherited from the previous Liberals intractable holier-than-thou heavy tactics on behalf of the big-end-of-town.


Strikes spread throughout Victoria
Wednesday 9 February 2000

Ansett air services around the country face disruption, airports will be without security guards and the nation's car industry is confronting a shortage of parts as national employers face outbreaks of industrial action over new agreements.

In Victoria, plans for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix are well behind schedule, Colonial Stadium struggles to be completed for the start of the football season and the state's manufacturing industry braces for widespread action over pay, hours and job security claims.

While Victorians sweltered under restrictions from the power dispute, unions moved to sue Yallourn Energy for allegedly intimidating its workers after a Federal Court judge yesterday found evidence that the company may have coerced unions to return to work.

Union officials, who met with advisers to the Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, yesterday, say they have also not ruled out breaching Government orders to remain at work, which risks fines of $10,000 per worker.

The assistant national secretary of the Australian Services Union, Ms Linda White, said airline passenger check-in staff would stop work on Friday at most major and provincial airports. This would disrupt Ansett services across Australia, particularly business travel.

"This will stop the planes from 4pm," she said. "We process check-ins. No flight attendant will do check-ins. We will also take action in the integrated operating centres where they control the flights. Freight workers will also strike for 24 hours."

Ms White said the Supreme Court yesterday blocked Ansett's bid to stop the action, which it ruled was "protected" under workplace laws.

A spokeswoman for Ansett, Ms Jo Ford, said the company had sought an injunction to stop rolling stoppages, but stopwork action would proceed on Friday that would disrupt some flights.

"We are still taking bookings at this stage," she said.

The company would seek alternative arrangements for passengers, Ms Ford said. "We hope to have minimal disruptions ... Ansett has to make significant changes to its business in order to continue to reinvest in the company."

The deputy national president of the Community and Public Sector Union, Ms Sue Mountford, said 300 Australian Protective Service officers would today refuse to staff airports, the Federal Parliament and security venues such as the Lucas Heights uranium plant.

Action by building workers for shorter hours has hit 51 building sites across Victoria. More than 25,000 workers failed to turn up to work on Monday as part of the 36-hour working week campaign, which shut down every major project in the CBD and building works in the major regional cities.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union secretary, Mr Martin Kingham, said employers had failed to expand legal action against unions for bans on Colonial Stadium in support of its campaign. About 30 sub-contractors at Colonial had now signed interim agreements for shorter hours and pay rises, bringing to 160 the companies that had agreed to demands.

Mr Kingham said bans had been applied to Kane Constructions at the Grand Prix site in Albert Park because the chief executive of the company, Mr Jonathan Forster, was also president of the Master Builders Association, which was fighting the unions. "Kane is the only one so far which has said it will lock our members out next Saturday," Mr Kingham said.

"I would love to be at the Grand Prix when Kane tries to lock eight of our members out when 128 other workers are looking on.'' Mr Forster said the campaign would cost jobs and investment. Because of the bans, contractors would have to ``catch up'', but if they remained in place ``there is obviously a threat that sections of the Grand Prix won't be in place for the event''.

Power unions at Yallourn Energy will sue the company, under workplace laws, for allegedly intimidating workers through threats of legal action against unions during the 29-day dispute. This came after comments yesterday by the Federal Court's Justice Ron Merkel.

Justice Merkel said Yallourn Energy could have used other laws to stop workers from imposing work bans, other than threatening to sue unions for millions of dollars in lost revenue. ``I am satisfied that there is a serious issue to be tried under s170NC (of the Act),'' he told the court.

The Electrical Trades Union state secretary, Mr Dean Mighell, said the decision had consequences for other employers who pursued legal means to solve industrial disputes. ``We are going to take Yallourn Energy to court for breaching provisions of the Workplace Relations Act ... for intimidating employees,'' he said.

A dispute over enterprise bargaining between 200 manufacturing workers and Melbourne vehicle parts company Ajax Fasteners threatens to stand down 40,000 workers in the car industry.

Ford, Holden and Mitsubishi have said a total of up to 15,000 of their workers may face stand-downs next week. The Premier said the industrial relations system encouraged disputes. He said the industrial action sweeping the state was a mark of Federal Government failure.


When the sewage spilled over Lorne tourism beach I said Bracks troubles have only just begun. The troubles are here. The seeds of these troubles go all the way to the Federal Liberals and the board rooms of multi-nationals. You can dissemble rural Australia only so far before a reaction ripples throughout the communities' fabric. People power Oz style is flexing its muscle once again.

Regards from Australia

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 08, 2000


Staggering development over there, Pieter. Can' thank you enough for your pertinent posts and links. Around rollover, everyone said to keep your eye on Australia cause things would go wrong there first -- vis-a-vis the dateline, etc. Amazing how much disrution seems to have settled in a s a way of life over there in the last 2 weeks. All things gang oft a-lay, ay? Any of this yet afflicting or affecting you personally?



-- Squirrel Hunter (nuts@upina.cellrelaytower), February 08, 2000.

Squirrel Hunter,
Quick observation. We, the tourism operators group, are recording about 20% decline in our tourism flow through. Petrol costs? People with less disposable income? Less security in the labour market? This is worrying in view of our extra advertising not converting into dollars earned.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 08, 2000.

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