COVID-19 is ravaging the country’s meatpacking plants, turning packinghouse workers into sacrificial lambs. But none of this was inevitable — it’s the result of companies’ decades-long assault on meatpacking unions, which destroyed workers’ ability to have a say over their working conditions.
Some Unions are part of the problem (ODT)
Insecure, underpaid, and often dangerous work is not just a feature of the global health crisis — it’s built into Australian capitalism. Illegal underpayment of workers is a business model for many employers.
Retail and fast food workers face an additional challenge. Unlike the other workforces who can turn to their unions for protection, the largest union that purports to represent workers in these sectors is an active collaborator in their exploitation.
The Trump administration is doing everything in its power to ensure that America’s meatpackers, immigrant and native-born alike, continue to work during the coronavirus pandemic at considerable risk to themselves, their families, and the entire public. “It’s genocide against the working class,” the leader of Teamsters Local 238, which represents meatpackers in Iowa, told the Guardian. And while the unions that continue to represent these workers are pushing back, their actual power is a shadow of what it was fifty years ago.
So workers crowd in refrigerated facilities as a deadly virus makes its way down the disassembly line — all so the grocery store shelves will remain stocked for consumers and voters, and the Beef Trust will stay in the black. Modern meatpacking may not be the unsanitary industry of The Jungle, but in the absence of strong worker organization, the nauseating disregard for human well-being remains.
The LNP focus on Unions as the greatest thieves in the country. They busted Craig Thompson for $13 mill to prove it. How can you be so conned Australia? (ODT)
The cost of misconduct for the major banks and AMP just keeps ticking up. It’s not over yet but at this stage of peak remediation provisioning, the number appears to be approaching the magic $10 billion mark on a pre-tax basis.
As the Post-Gazette reported:
The choice for thousands of union workers at Royal Dutch Shell’s petrochemical plant in Beaver County was clear Tuesday: Either stand in a giant hall waiting for President Donald Trump to speak or take the day off with no pay.
“Your attendance is not mandatory,” said the rules that one contractor relayed to employees, summarizing points from a memo that Shell sent to union leaders a day ahead of the visit to the $6 billion construction site. But only those who showed up at 7 am, scanned their ID cards, and prepared to stand for hours—through lunch but without lunch—would be paid.
“NO SCAN, NO PAY,” a supervisor for that contractor wrote.
In 2016 the realease of the Panama Papers resulted in the shining of a light on the participants in the very secret tax evasion and money laundering schemes of the world’s 1%. The Trump name appeared over 4000 times. What happened in Australia and it’s list of names. Moreover the LNP hasn’t increased regulation but continued it’s ambition to decrease it. In fact coupled with this measure this government intends to make tax evasion and money laundering easier.(ODT)
The Australian Taxation Office has said it is investigating about 800 Australians in relation to the Panama Papers. However, in 2014 the ATO also gave amnesty to a number of wealthy individuals with offshore income and assets.
http://List of people named in the Panama Papers
Australia’s top companies and richlisters
Unions have demanded the government come clean on which businesses lobbied it to drop plans to introduce a register to help stamp out multinational tax avoidance.
The government has previously made clear its commitment to introduce a beneficial ownership register, a simple and effective transparency measure that curbs profit-shifting and tax avoidance by showing the public who is really behind often-complex corporate structures.
The former assistant treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer and current assistant treasurer, Stuart Robert, both pledged to introduce a register.
Coalition abandons plan for register to help beat tax avoidance
But Treasury is now saying no such commitment was made.
But even this doesn’t have to be scary. Amazon’s recent decision to raise the wages of its US and UK employees demonstrates that, regardless of its size, it is still vulnerable to pressure from organised labour, activists and politicians in exactly the same way as other companies.
Amazon’s enormous global distribution network makes purchasing goods extremely convenient, a huge improvement on the stupid time-wasting practice of “going to the shops”. The bad stuff about it is it has some obvious remedies that go unapplied, not because the company is uniquely powerful or evil but because those remedies would affect all of its competitors as well. The relevant conflict here isn’t between Jeff Bezos and Gerry Harvey – it’s between both of them on one side and the large mass of the rest of us on the other. Give me my bendy rollers but also a fair economic system that works for everyone.
These results should end the simplistic tales in which education alone challenges the dominance of the 1 percent. If we want to change whom our economy works for, we must change who gets to exercise power. And this paper makes it clear: There is power in a union.
These born-to-rule conservatives think nothing of using taxpayer millions to set up a supposedly independent watchdog and then immediately sicking it on their political enemies.
The matter the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) is so hellbent on pursuing is a decade-old donation from the Australian Workers’ Union to GetUp!, which was never a secret in the first place.
The investigation revolves around whether the correct paperwork was created and kept. It is not remotely close to a criminal matter. In fact, even if the ROC’s very darkest theories are correct, it will mean the AWU will be liable of a maximum possible fine of $11,000.
However, the government thought this was deemed worthy of politicising the Australian Federal Police with a reality TV raid.
When outrage started to pour in about the use of police force to pursue such an obviously political target, Turnbull’s response was pure arrogance. Rather than provide a proper explanation he simply, accused Bill Shorten of having “questions to answer.”
Now, as we now know, the plot is even thicker.
As with all things associated with disclosure and transparency in Australia, the ‘process’ is as clear as mud. It does seem, however, that the AEC is being used by politicians to pursue an agenda. This is now a common theme in Australia, the politicization of government agencies.And, right on cue, the Australian Federal Police have conducted raids on Australian Workers Union offices in Melbourne and Sydney. The investigation relates to whether donations made to activist group GetUp were authorised under union rules. The AFP issued a statement confirming they were carrying out the raids on behalf of the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC), the independent regulator of unions and employer associations. Instead they’ve gone for the circus of involving the AFP — who are just doing their jobs — and executing a search warrant for documents that had they asked for, requested, or served the notice to produce, we would have willingly provided them.
New technologies will entrench inequality rather than solve it, unless the power between workers and employers is equalised
Ian the Climate Denialist Potato has invited Bethany the intern to speak to his new coffee shop franchisees. But does he know she’s in the union?
Two of Tony Abbott’s long-promised industrial relations crackdowns appear headed for Senate defeat with the Palmer United party and crossbench senator Ricky Muir set to join Labor and the Greens in rejecting them.
The prime minister promised before the election to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission as a “tough cop on the beat” for the building industry and to set up a new registered organisations commission to monitor the conduct of unions and business groups.
Labor and the Greens oppose both bills and now a spokesman for the Palmer United party has confirmed both PUP senators intend to vote against them. A spokesman for Motoring Enthusiast senator Muir said he was also “very likely” to vote against them.
Both bills were set to be debated this week but have now been deferred by the government as it seeks more time to lobby and win the crossbench votes.
The looming Senate defeat comes as the government is seeking to recover from Monday’s damaging leadership spill motion and as Abbott said Senate obstructionism had been the only mistake in last year’s budget.
He said the only thing the government got wrong with its 2014 budget was that it had “failed to get legislation through … a Senate controlled by our political enemies” and that the only promises he had actually broken were spending cuts to foreign aid and the ABC.
The government has given mixed messages about whether it remains committed to key budget measures stalled in the Senate, including higher education reforms and the Medicare co-payment, which has already been twice revised.
The tougher industrial laws were part of the government’s election pitch, and are often touted as the answer to scandals such as the wrongdoing at the Health Services Union.
The building and construction industry (improving productivity) bill was introduced almost as soon as the government won office in 2013, and the fair work (registered organisations) amendment bill – described by Abbott as “very significant legislation” – was introduced in the middle of last year.
Labor argues legislative changes it made in government already strengthened the Fair Work Commission’s investigative powers and penalties were increased.
In a submission to a Senate committee early last year, the workplace relations minister, Eric Abetz, said: “The government considers the fair work (registered organisations) amendment bill 2013 as a high priority piece of legislation … This policy has been well ventilated for some time and the government has a very clear mandate to implement it as a matter of extreme urgency.”