Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 05:22:38 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu<
Subject: Australian Strike Update
/** headlines: 117.0 **/
/* Written 11:03 PM Nov 18, 1995 by labornet in igc:labr.global */
Update on Oz national union crisis
IGC News Desk. 18 November, 1995.
NATIONAL STRIKE UPDATE In an extraordinary step in this national dispute over union membershp rights the union movement has appointed a former Australian Prime Minister and former leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Bob Hawke, as its lead advocate in a dispute over union rights with a multinational resource company Conzinc Riotinto. Mr Hawke, who retired from industrial and parliamentary politics a little over three years ago, was invited to lead the union campaign for equal pay for equal work. Over twenty years ago Mr Hawke won historic industrial law cases on behalf of union members in the equal pay field. After weekend negotiations Conzinc Riotinto also stepped back from the brink.Faced with widespread industrial action the company announced it now recognised "collective bargaining" but it still debated whether the 70-plus union members at its Weipa bauxite mine were doing equal work of equal value to its individually contracted employees. The unions and the company will now appear before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to debate/negotiate outstanding issues. Meanwhile Conzinc Riotinto employees around Australia continue the strike, and a 7 day strike of coal workers also continues but stevedores and other maritime workers have declared a halt to their industrial action and other unions - including truckies, power workers, oil workers, public servants - have held off from further industrial action at the request of the ACTU. Conzinc Riotinto has traditionally been a major fundraiser for the conservative political parties in Australia. As a Federal election is due within the next six months many in the labour movement - industrial and political - suspected that this dispute was deliberately orchestrated to undermine and demoralise union political power. The conservatives have blamed the ACTU, and its union affiliates, for playing a key role in keeping them out of power for the last thirteen years largely through a succesful wages Accord.