UNIONS NSW COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES - MEETING HELD THURSDAY 25 AUGUST 2016
IN TRADES HALL AUDITORIUM, SYDNEY AT 5:30PM.

The Acting President, Com. R. Mallia occupied the Chair.

PRESENT:  M. Morey [Secretary], T. Costa, E. Maiden [Assistant Secretaries].

OPENING OF THE MEETING:  The Acting President, Com. R. Mallia opened the meeting and in doing so recognised the traditional owners of the land on which the meeting was held, The Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

MINUTES: 

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:-

“That the minutes from the meeting of 11 August 2016 as circulated be received”.

Com. B. Smith (SDA) seconded.

CARRIED

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:-                 

That the minutes of the meeting of 11 August 2016 be adopted”.

 Com. R. Fortescue (AMWU) seconded.

CARRIED

CREDENTIALS:

From:   The Australian Workers' Union, Greater NSW Branch appointing Steve Ackerman in place of Russ Collison for tonight's           meeting.

From:   Textile Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia, NSW/SA/TAS Branch appointing Tracy Lefevre in place of John Owen for         tonight's meeting.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:-       

“That the credentials be received and the delegates welcomed”.

Com. R. Martin (NSWNMA) seconded.

CARRIED


APOLOGIES:
Apologies were received and accepted for: J. Kiejda (President), B. Holmes, (NSWNMA), R. Collison (AWU), D. McKinley, (ETU), R. Tonkli (SDA), G. Kelly (USU) M. Thomson, S. Turner (PSA).

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved:-       

“That the apologies be received and accepted”.

 Com. P. Noack (AWU) seconded.

CARRIED

GUEST SPEAKER:  

Mr Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party Candidate for US Vice-President

The Secretary Com. M. Morey welcomed Mr Osborne Hart who is visiting from the USA to address council.

Mr Hart said he had just taken part in protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, demanding the indictment and prosecution of police who killed Alton Sterling. The killing of African American males has become an all too common event in the USA.

Mr Hart said he is a lifelong fighter for Black rights and he has been involved with the civil rights movement since the 1960s and he has been politically active in the 1970s in the fight to end Washington’s war against the people of Vietnam.

Mr Hart joined the Socialist Workers Party in the mid-1970s and for decades has been part of helping to build and strengthen the labour movement and has worked as a meat packer, steelworker, and on the railroads and currently works at Walmart.  Mr Hart is 63 he ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015. He participated in protests against cuts in Medicare and against the drive by state and city governments to slash funds for public education.  He had spoken out in defence of the Cuban Revolution, demanding Washington end its 55-year long economic embargo of the island and return the territory containing the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo to Cuba.

Mr Hart said the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is the only working class voice in the presidential race in the USA.  The majority of SWP members are from unions.  The global financial crisis has demonstrated the irreversible crisis of the capitalist system.  This is an unprecedented time in history for its attack on the rights of the working class, in particular voting rights.  The SWP is a product of many struggles in US history including the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam war.  The party raises questions of wage stagnation, deaths of African Americans, attacks on trade unions.  Black Lung has returned in coal mines.  There has been resistance to these attacks on workers’ rights. 

The SWP believes that the US deserves a revolutionary working class party.

The Secretary Com. M. Morey thanked Mr Hart and said that union politics has always been the best politics for the working class.

EXECUTIVE CORRESPONDENCE:

1.  From The Australian Workers Union (AWU): - condemns the Baird governments unilateral decision to ban greyhound racing in NSW from July 1st 2017.

The AWU abhors any and all acts of animal cruelty, however we believe that the human cost to working women and men has been completely disregarded. Greyhound racing in NSW sustains almost 1700 full time jobs, 1000 of these located in regional areas. Many of these decent, hardworking people will struggle to find new work, particularly in regional Australia. The greyhound industry in NSW contributes over $335 million gross to the state economy every year and more than $30 million in state taxes. 

This decision was reached following the release of the findings from the Special Commission of Inquiry led by former High Court Judge Michael McHugh which made 80 recommendations. Only one of which proposed that greyhound racing had lost its social license and should be banned. This report contained serious flaws and many instances where members of the industry and the public have been denied procedural fairness. No consideration was given to the reforms that have already been implemented over the previous 16 months.

The industry is asking for something all trade unionists and most Australians passionately believe in; a fair go. This industry has a plan for a sustainable future with animal welfare as the focus of every decision going forward.

The AWU commends this motion to Unions NSW and its affiliates for its support.

Com. Steve Ackerman spoke to the resolution and said The Four Corners documentary display of animal cruelty was shocking and disgraceful.  However, innocent workers should not be sacrificed in the destruction of this industry. A sustainable future for the greyhound industry is a real possibility and we should not ignore the human cost of removing this industry.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation: -

That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW also expresses its concern for the unilateral action of the Baird government to ban greyhound racing. 

Further, the industry deserves a fair go and the chance to implement its plan for a sustainable future with a central focus on animal welfare.”

Com. S. Ackerman (AWU) seconded the resolution.                     

CARRIED

2.  From Australian Services Union (ASU):  regarding Domestic Violence Leave in the National Employment Standards.  Nearly two women are killed in Australia every week as a result of violence against women.  Many of these women are killed by a current or former partner.  Domestic and Family violence is at a crisis level and it must stop.

As a community we must pull back the curtain on domestic violence.  No more can this issue be considered a private or family matter.  It is a community matter and as a community we must act to end the violence.

Many women experiencing domestic and family violence are in the workplace.  Their ability to participate in the workforce is often negatively impacted by the violence that they are experiencing.  Women’s financial security is vital to their ability to leave violence and continue to live safely and with dignity and respect in the community.  Not having access to paid domestic violence leave is putting the lives of women and children at risk.  It is time to act.

The ASU has a proud history of pursuing Paid Domestic Violence leave for our members through enterprise bargaining.  I know that many of our comrade unions have also prioritised this issue.  The ACTU is currently pursuing Paid Domestic Violence leave as a common Modern Award matter, and we feel very positive about the changes that a success in this case would bring.

 In 2014, Unions NSW supported us in our call for Domestic Violence leave to be included in the National Employment Standards.  I am proud of the leadership that the ASU and Unions NSW have shown in this pursuit.  As a result of this leadership ACTU Congress adopted the call for paid Domestic Violence leave to be included in the NES into their policy.  We have also had significant success in getting this position adopted into ALP policy at both a state and national level.  And yet there has been no action by those can make this vital condition a reality.  Despite all of their rhetoric.  The Turnbull government refuses to act.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria explicitly recommended that the Victorian Government pursue the inclusion of paid Domestic Violence leave as a National Employment Standard. Premier Andrews has been forthcoming in his support for this.

We know that the experiences examined by the Victorian Royal Commission are not dissimilar to the experiences of women and families across Australia.

In NSW there has been nothing but radio silence from Premier Baird on the subject of including paid Domestic and Family Violence leave in the NES.

The ASU is seeking the support of Unions NSW and our comrade unions to join us in mounting a strong and united campaign to demand that paid Domestic and Family Violence leave be included as a National Employment Standard.

Com. J. Wright spoke to the correspondence and said domestic violence has long been a national crisis and a national disgrace, despite the rhetoric there has been little change.  That’s why the ASU will be calling on the Premier and the Opposition Leader to fully support paid domestic violence leave for all workers, and calls on the affiliates to support the campaign.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation: -

 “That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW notes the disconnect between the rhetoric around the importance of tackling domestic violence and the failure of state and federal governments to endorse paid domestic violence leave, which can make a real difference to allowing women to maintain paid employment.  

Unions NSW supports the inclusion of paid domestic violence leave in the NES and will continue to work with the ASU and other affiliates to campaign to achieve this important objective. This issue will be referred to the Unions NSW strategic planning process for 2017

Unions NSW will call a meeting of affiliates to discuss this issue and the issue will also be referred to the Strategic Planning Process for 2017.”

Com. J Wright (ASU) seconded the resolution. 

CARRIED 

3. Correspondence from both National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) & Maritime Union of Australia regarding Sydney Arts College.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)Regarding Save Sydney College of Arts.  Unions NSW affiliates will be aware of University of Sydney management’s plan firstly to close down, then to uproot and downsize, Sydney College of the Arts (SCA).

Sydney College of the Arts is one of Australia's leading contemporary art schools, counting a number of Australia’s most notable artists and designers amongst its alumni, including three Archibald winners. The SCA has a unique, conceptual, practice-led curriculum. Central to this education are the studio spaces in the unique facilities at the Kirkbride buildings in Callan Park, Rozelle, where $19 million was spent on the restoration and fitout as an arts school in the 1990s.

On 21 June this year University management initially announced a proposal to merge with the University of NSW School of Art and Design by the beginning of 2017, effectively resulted in a closure of SCA and cessation of its programmes.  Union members and students immediately organised against the closure and engaged in letter writing and public protests including a vigil outside the Archibald exhibition on 15 July.

Following the outcry, on 28 July University management announced it had terminated its discussions with UNSW and abandoned the merger, and that it would instead close the Callan Park campus, merge SCA with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and move it into buildings on the main campus.   No students would be enrolled for the Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) for 2017, and 25 of the 43 FTE positions would be deleted. 

While stopping outright closure was a victory, the University’s “plan B” has left staff demoralised and students faced with their degrees being fundamentally changed mid-way through.  The students have every right to feel misled by the University - as demonstrated by over 130 having joined a class action under consumer law against the University for "deceptive conduct".  The campaign has gathered momentum with a large march and rally to the Vice Chancellors’ office last Wednesday 17 August, and this week students’ occupation of the SCA administration building.

As a justification for its proposal, University management, with overall $2 billion in annual revenue and a $160m surplus last year, is claiming cost inefficiencies.  This is false.   SCA is self-sustaining and does not impact negatively on the University budget.   To produce numbers exaggerating SCA’s running costs, management is using a highly controversial theoretical model of cost of floor space – not actual outlay or expense incurred.  The claimed costs are fictional; a result of an accounting manoeuvre. 

This is a battle about what universities are about and what education is for – between a short-sighted management on one hand which only sees education and students as a source of revenue; and on the other, committed staff, talented students, and a community expectation that the SCA’s current valuable, unique contribution to Australian arts and culture continues at Callan Park.

NTEU members support the students’ occupation and we thank those unions including the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, the MUA, the Public Service Association and Unions NSW for their support in the campaign.   We ask that Unions NSW continue to support the staff and student campaign to convince management at the University of Sydney to Save SCA and Reinstate the BVA, by promoting campaign activities, assisting in lobbying, and supporting the students occupying the SCA premises. 

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA): regarding Save Sydney College of Arts.  On Wednesday 24th of August the MUA rallied in support of the Sydney College of the Arts who are occupying the offices of the SCA in support of their struggle for justice. Below is the press release that had been released by the group, there is also a $2000 contribution from the MUA.  

Sydney College of the Arts students have occupied the offices of SCA administration, including the office of the Dean, Colin Rhodes, forcing management out.

Students announced at a rally last week, on Wednesday 17 August, that if Vice-Chancellor Spence and Dr Rhodes failed to meet student demands by the end of the week, then the campaign would escalate.

The action comes after the University proposed, on August 9, staff cuts of up to 60%, closure of the Ceramics, Jewellery, and Glass studios, and the loss of the Rozelle–Kirkbride campus.

 The students in the occupation announced:

“We, in the name of the students of SCA, are now occupying the offices of management.

 Our demands are:

  1. The University immediately removes the Dean of SCA, Colin Rhodes, and that he be replaced with a team fully representative of the staff of Sydney College of the Arts.
  2. The University guarantees no cuts to jobs, studios and courses.
  3. The University guarantees that SCA will not be moved from Kirkbride.
  4. The University reinstates the Bachelor of Visual Arts for 2017.
  5. The University guarantees a proper and transparent independent review of its financial and constitutional status. 

As long as the University of Sydney ignores students’ demands our actions will intensify.”

Suzy Faiz, a Masters student, said, “The University continues to disregard the demands of the students, and thereby shows its disrespect for its major client. SCA presents just one of many casualties from a totally unjust and unsuitable economic system meant for ripping off students to make profits. Universities used to stand for intensive deep learning, now it just sells vocational courses."

Dylan Griffiths, Education Officer of the USYD Students Representative Council (SRC), said, “Every student, staff, the local community and workers have a common interest in protecting Sydney College of the Arts and fighting the proposed job cuts. We need you to come down to SCA and support this occupation.”

The Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch unequivocally endorses and supports the occupation of the SCA building in Callan Park. The occupation represents the democratic principles of resistance to injustice in all of its forms. The arts are a reflection of our society and its fundamental that they are supported. The MUA Sydney Branch supports the continued occupation as a continuation of the finest traditions of the movement, students and workers coming together to achieve progressive change. We will provide personnel and funds to ensure it brings about the successes that these brave and courageous students are carrying out on behalf of the working class.

The MUA Sydney Branch are seeking Unions NSW to endorse the occupation and the campaign demands, and call upon affiliates to support the occupation and demands, through attendance, solidarity and support.

Students Dylan Griffiths and Cecilia Castro from Sydney College of Arts (SCA) addressed council and spoke of their concerns for the loss of teaching staff and of possibly not completing their studies.  The students thanked Unions NSW and affiliates for their support and the MUA for attending the sit-in and donating to the campaign.

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation: -

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW supports the student occupation at Callan Park and the student campaign demand.

We thank the NTEU, MUA, NSWNMA and PSA for supporting the students. Unions NSW will continue to support the student campaign to save SCA and reinstate BVA through attendance, solidarity and practical assistance like assisting in lobbying and promoting campaign activities.”

Com. J Wright (ASU) seconded the resolution.                       

CARRIED

4.   From Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU):-   advising after 14 months of tireless work to stop privatisation of NSW Public Works Heritage Services, the Baird Government conceded that it will remain in government hands.

This result came from a concerted campaign by CFMEU to inform the community of the cost of privatisation on NSW’s heritage assets and future training of heritage trades.

The community support of heritage should not be under estimated by any government as this State institution has played an integral part in preserving our heritage structures since the early 90s.

CFMEU acknowledges the support of both the Labor Party and the Greens in local, state and federal jurisdictions as well as the valued support of Unions NSW.

This is a significant win for the union movement in the face of a state government determined to decimate public services. 

The Secretary, Com. M. Morey moved the Executive recommendation: -

“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW congratulates the CFMEU and their members for this significant win against the privatisation of Public Works Heritage Services”.

Com. A. Claassens (RTBU) seconded the resolution.                      

CARRIED

REPORT:

1.    The Peoples Inquiry into Privatisation

Michael Whaites, Public Service International (PSI) Oceania Sub-Regional Secretary spoke and said over the past few years we have seen the many sales of public institutions, and what a terrible decision this has been.  Now Mike Baird has announced his plan to look into further privatisations of public assets.  This is why we have started a people’s inquiry to hear from your members, your organisations and workers about what privatisation means to them.  The Sydney hearing is scheduled for 8 September.  Already, Newcastle unions have committed to send 1-2 members to the inquiry at their Trades Hall.

The Secretary Com. M. Morey said Unions NSW supports the PSI and the Peoples Inquiry into Privatisation and encourages its affiliates to support and participate in the inquiry.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1.  Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA Fundraising Dinner

     Thursday 8 September 6:30pm – 10:30pm

     At Aerial UTS Function Centre, Building 10, Level 7, 235 Jones St, Ultimo.

     Table bookings can be made via the APHEDA website link.

 

2.   1917 General Strike Centenary Celebrations

Com. Linda Carruthers presented a 3-minute video about the 1917 General Strike to council.  The strike started in August 1917 and the walkout was triggered by the introduction of time cards in the workshop, but it was much more than that.  The discontent in the industry had been brewing for more than 2 years.  The strike flowed into all means of the economy. Mass meetings of over 100,000 workers were held on a regular basis.  The strike involved over a third of the NSW workforce.  The strike propelled a generation of unionists into ongoing activism including political leader Ben Chifley.

 

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 6:36 PM                                                                      

 

Tagged: Minutes  /   News

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