Bad News Week - Umpire Bails Out

Excerpt from TOA BULLETIN T98-04 02-02-98
CEPU The Communications Union - TOA Branch

The media this week has focussed on the Government attack on unions at the waterfront. The NFF (an arm of the National Party) has initiated a strategy to destroy the MUA. However a decision of the Industrial Relations Commission last week was far more significant for the ordinary workers.

The appeal to a Full Bench of the IRC overturned an earlier IRC decision that the IRC would intervene and arbitrate on the Rio Tinto dispute in the Hunter Valley. The decision removes the umpire from all disputes other that those that stop the nation eg the pilot's dispute. The IRC was unable to do anything in the Pilot's dispute. Thus the umpire has decided that it will not effectively intervene in anything.

Government Minister Reith was delighted with the result. He does not want an umpire, he wants the parties to fight it out! So does Rio Tinto.

For most workers, this is the new era. This summary is crude but real.

- It is illegal to strike or put on bans if your employer attacks you.

- Strikes are only available in limited and highly technical legal circumstances.

- You will never get another pay rise - unless your employer agrees

As you have seen with the EBA and AWA, a small pay rise offer is more than offset by increased unpaid hours, reductions in overtime and reduced allowances. The big losers will be the vast majority of workers who cannot afford to engage in long strikes. Welcome to America.