Blackmailing the Governor
At our August 14 meeting, Ralph Hawkins, Society of Australian Genealogists, spoke on Australia’s First Successful Strike. This was by the timber workers of Pennant Hills (now the area of Oxford Street, Epping) who, after grounding their saws for three weeks in 1817, received augmented rations and returned to work. Ralph’s donation went to Legacy.
Ian Massingham reported from the Australian Free Trade and Investment Network (AFTINet) meeting that several RTA members had attended the China Free Trade Agreement Protest Rally outside Parliament House on July 31.
A rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was held on August 23 at Martin Place; the latest TPPA talks fell down but there are more planned this month; the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, said the TPPA would be good for Australian businesses but five MPs will vote against it if less Australian sugarcane is allowed into the United States.
A TAFE representative said the loss of 2800 TAFE teachers and 90,000 student drop in TAFE enrolments was causing the down-skilling of our workforce and overseas workers being employed at lower rates of pay.
Ron Denham reported on the last meeting of the Combined Retired Union Members Association CRUMA. Parramatta Female Factory Friends requests help in its ongoing campaign to save this important precinct from being turned into a 30-floor high-rise; Riot Day, which annually commemorates the 1827 workers’ uprising in which women workers broke out of the Parramatta factory in protest at having their rations removed, will be held this year on October 23 at 10am at Cumberland Hospital, Fleet Street, North Parramatta.
There will be a Call to Action CRUMA meeting at Trades Hall 10am-2pm on September 21, with lunch provided.
CRUMA opposes the proposed Strata Title Law changes, holding the view that people should have the right to live in their own house until they die. CRUMA warns about the hazards from working with asbestos — some poor-quality products, mainly from mainland China, are being imported here. Ron recommended a new booklet produced by the Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia. CRUMA supported the protest against the China FTA on July 31. Ron was elected CRUMA Assistant Treasurer.
Close down Royal Commission
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA demands that the Federal Government immediately close down the Royal Commission into Trade Unions, an instrument it established with a pre-determined outcome to discredit the labour movement. This commission is now without any credibility as the Liberal Party connections of the Commissioner, Justice Dyson Heydon, have now been publicly disclosed.
Plea to rescind Budget Bill
Allan West moved that the RTA ask Labor and the Greens to move that the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Bill 2015, passed on June 18, be rescinded and that Federation be asked to campaign for this along with other public service unions. This (now) law lowers the Asset Test limit for the Aged Pension to 10 per cent of the Superannuation Pension instead of the allocated tax-free component which was much higher. The new law will thus cause many retired public servants to lose $3000–8000 a year in their pension (doubled if there is a partner).
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the Productivity Commission for its attack on workers’ pay conditions in its proposal to cut penalty rates for Sunday work. We absolutely support the ACTU in its condemnation of the Productivity Commission. If this attempt to reduce wages is successful it will encourage further attacks on wages and living conditions.
Make perks public
Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA demands that the federal government make public all the taxpayer-funded so-called entitlements available to politicians.
What can only be described as perks are equally enjoyed by both sides of politics with, for example, spending such as this considered to fit within the rules: $9000 worth of business class flights for ALP MP Tony Burke’s children to Uluru, and a holiday from Christmas to the New Year for members of the Education Minister, Christopher Pyne’s family in Sydney. These perks of office are not available to other citizens. Citizens are entitled to know the full extent of these “entitlements” for which we are paying, and to decide whether they are justified and should be allowed to continue.
Any RTA member turning 80 this year is entitled to a cake. Give your details to Therese on (02) 9519 8609.
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693. Please visit the RTA blogsite.