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Charlie Donzow Report

  Secretary Report

   

The bi-annual Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union Federal Council was recently held in Townsville, from Monday 8th September through to Friday 12th   September 2008. 

All branches provided comprehensive reports on their branch operations, finances and membership. 

Queensland Branch Secretary, Russell Carr as part of his report informed council that their branch had hired a Brazilian meatworker to assist the branch in organising and recruiting at abattoirs that have a high number of Brazilian

guest workers under 457 Visas. 

Graham Bird, Secretary Victorian Branch reported that Swift Australia had purchased the Victorian arm of Tasman Meats which covered plants at Yarrawonga, Cobram and Brooklyn. The branch is confident of negotiating collective agreements for all sites.

 

Grant Courtney, Secretary Tasmanian Branch thanked the New South Wales Branch for assisting the Tasmanian Branch in being able to appoint a part time organiser, which has lead to an increase in membership and better financial position for the branch. 

Graham Smith, South Australian Branch Secretary reported that after 8 years of battling, the branch has finally concluded an agreement for Teys Brothers, Narracoorte. 

Graham Haynes, Western Australia Branch Secretary reported on the disastrous effects live sheep exports have had on that state with the closure of 51 registered abattoirs over the past 21 years.

 

The Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Agriculture was invited to address Council, broadly outlining developments in the portfolio since the labor Party assumed government. Following the change of government after the last Federal election, it was indicative of the former government's attitude that the stakeholder lists did not include any employee representatives. The Minister is in the process of changing this state of affairs.

 

The Minister indicated he was prepared to deal with the Union frankly and openly, and acknowledged that there would inevitably be points of difference, and in particular with the live export issue. The Minister summarised other areas that he thought would be of mutual interest, including the availability of Q-Fever vaccine, and improvement of market access (to which the Minister has devoted considerable time). The Minister indicated that he is relaxed in his dealings with the RSPCA but has more difficulty dealing with animal rights groups that fundamentally object to making use of animals at all.

 

The minister also acknowledged that there would be some areas which overlapped with the Workplace Relations, and that he would be happy to pass on information to the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (also Minister for Workplace Relations) if desired.

 

Comrade Bird noted that the Union has been fighting the  live export trade for some 30 years. However, there was also other problems facing the Union and the industry. In particular, there are issues with the fresh pork trade, with plants closing due to imports coming in from Canada and Denmark. The Union should be placed in the stakeholder loop for consultation in respect of grants to the meat industry. Under the coalition government, the Union has witnessed grants being made to the worst elements of the industry. Union involvement in a number of various boards has been eliminated by the former conservative government, and the present one should examine restoring Union representation to such bodies.

 

Comrade Carr welcomed the opportunity for frank discussion with the Minister, and requested the Minister engage with the Union in the future in a discussion about the hard economics of the live export trade.

 

Comrade Haynes also indicated a willingness to analyse the economic realities of the live export trade. He expressed the view that a closer analysis will demonstrate the falsity of the claims made in respect of the live export issue. The economic value of the live export trade is much less than that claimed by its proponents.

 

Comrade Courtney informed the Council that during recent travels in the Kimberley region, he noted that there were no abattoirs, despite the fact that local graziers would prefer not to have to transport their cattle long distances.

There was a largely unemployed indigenous community which would benefit greatly from investment in a local abattoir.

 

Given the time restraints on his present visit to the Federal Council, the Minister agreed to meet with a delegation from the Union to have discussions foreshadowed by Council members. The Minister requested that such matters be raised by contacting Martin Breen, and informing him that the Minister has asked he be a liaison with the AMIEU. The Minister was particularly interested in efforts that could be made to bring full time work to indigenous communities, as it would add another layer to the tone which began this year (ie with Aboriginal reconciliation).  

 

Other matters debated at Council;

 

  1. 457 Visa guest workers and 417 back packer visa holders and the impact they were having on employment in our industry with Council resolving that we pursue our concerns with the relevant ministers. 
  2. Occupational Health and Safety and its effect on workers with the Federal Governments move to nationalise through Harmonisation of OH&S. 
  3. Vocational education and training and the continued support of MINTRAC. 
  4. Meat Industry Labour Agreement with amendments to current Queensland Labour Agreement. 

The final matter I wish to touch on are the results of the elections for the following positions;

 

AMIEU  Federal Secretary - Brian Crawford

AMIEU Federal President - Grant Courtney

AMIEU Federal Vice President - Patricia Fernandez

 

On behalf of the NSW Branch I wish to congratulate  Brian, Grant  and Patricia and also thank the outgoing Federal Secretary, Graham Bird and Federal President, Kath Evans.

 

 I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members and their families a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year.

Peter Usher report

         Presidents Report

Union Collective Agreements

 

It has been a busy time on the Industrial front with negotiations for four union collective agreements to cover poultry plants in the outer Western suburbs of Sydney being successfully concluded, resulting in wage increases for employees without the loss of any conditions over the next three years.   

As previously reported the Baiada Union Collective Agreement has passed the no disadvantage test by the Workplace Authority and is now registered. 

 A ballot for the Cordina Union Collective Agreement has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the employees at Cordina and is now awaiting approval by the Workplace Authority which hopefully should not take to long before that to is approved. 

The employees at Bartter Steggles, Marsden Park have also endorsed a Union Collective Agreement and are awaiting approval from the Workplace Authority.  

 Red Lea Poultry and the Union have finalised negotiations regarding their collective agreement and at present a document is being prepared to enable this agreement to be approved.

 

 I would like to thank the delegates and Consultative Committees at each site without whose assistance the desired outcomes and wage increases, would have been extremely difficult to achieve, once again showing  the importance of having strong delegates and Committee structures at each site. 

 

At present we are in the process of arranging dates for the Delegates and myself to commence negotiations with the Company for a new Collective Agreement for Devro, Bathurst whose agreement expires in 2009. I am hopeful that there can be a successful outcome as soon as possible.

 

Insist on your right to be represented

 

Over the past months there have been several incidents of employers interviewing employees regarding alleged workplace related incidents without the employee being informed that they have the right to have a delegate, or someone of their choosing to witness and  assist them in understanding and defending the allegations leveled at them.

 

At times there have been 2 or 3 managerial representatives present during the interview and in most of these incidents the employees have been given warnings as a result of these interviews. 

 

All employees have the right and should insist to be represented by either a delegate, or someone of there choosing to represent them when they are questioned regarding any allegation leveled against them.   

If in doubt speak to your Delegate or ring the Union

    

Yours in Unity, Peter

Mark Perkins Report

Mark Perkins Report

 

Global Financial Meltdown

 

Don't allow the media to persuade you that the meltdown of the world's banking system is solely the result of the sub-prime mortgage debacle.  The trash mortgages may have played a major role but can't possibly be solely responsible.  There is far too much money involved for that to be the case. 

To attempt to get ones head around these massive debt figures and fully appreciate the magnitude of the problem, one has to first look at the U.S financial structure as it was back in 1957-8, fifty years ago.  Back then, when the U.S was still paying off its WW2 and Korean War-debt the U.S total debt stood at 693 billion dollars and was deemed manageable.  Over fifty years, mainly through mismanagement and lack of regulatory control they have taken this debt to an unmanageable 53 trillion dollars, from .693 of a trillion dollars to 53 trillion dollars.  42 trillion dollars of this massive debt has accrued since 1990.  The alarm bells should have been ringing way back then.  They possibly were but no one was listening.  During this period, while the Chinese have been labouring and producing, the Americans have been borrowing and consuming.  Ironically much of the money the Americans were using to splurge on Chinese manufactured goods was borrowed from the Chinese.  The bubble had to burst. 

To place a comprehensible prospective on these figures let's look at what they mean.  Theoretically they mean that every man, woman and child in the U.S owe 175,154 dollars each or, put another way, every U.S family of four owes 700,616 dollars.  How can the USA be called the land of the free when its citizenry is enslaved by so much debt? 

For years those controlling this Lewis Carroll style economy have known about these politely named sub-mortgages.  In less then polite circles they have been known as NINJA mortgages, (no income no job applicants).  The authorities have allowed these carpet-bagger mortgage hawkers to change the main qualifying criteria from low-income to non-income applicants.  These agents are criminals and should have their assets confiscated. 

Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMC) were chartered by congress in 1968 and 1970 respectively as secondary mortgagers to facilitate liquidity in the primary mortgage market and to ensure that funds were constantly available to institutions that loaned money to home buyers.

 

What a mess.  What a criminally negligent and quite avoidable mess.  This has occurred wile successive Presidents, who had cocooned themselves in the white house and who are now claiming to be quite oblivious to what was happening around them, involved in the U.S in three (3) un-winnable wars.  The present incumbent, the swashbuckling George W Bush, has to date spent 3.2 trillion dollars on the Iraqi debacle.  The cost of this act of insanity is still spiraling out of control.  Combine this act of madness with the madness of granting trillions of dollars worth of mortgages to unemployed and unemployable people and its easy to understand why the world's interconnected banking systems are in trouble, and when the banks are in trouble we are all in trouble.

Our members may well ask just how this will affect them.  This is a very difficult question and I wouldn't presume to know the answers.  Maybe for a start the Government should be concentrating more on jobs and worker's mortgages than the safeguarding of bank deposits.  Most workers I know have got what little money they have been able to save, over and above basic living costs, tied up in their home mortgages.  I also believe job security should be No.1 priority for our Governments.  If they can devise policies to save the banks they should be able to do likewise with jobs.

 

One could assume, now that the Australian dollar is crashing through the floor and the subsequent benefit this is having for exporters, including meat exporters, our whole country should be advantaged.  Even if exports volume is not enhanced the increased profit margin on these sales, due to the lower dollar, should be subsequently increased.  This scenario is dependent on a couple of very important circumstances, for instance our traditional customers may not have sufficient foreign credit to enable them to purchase our products and if they have, and do, they may not themselves have a market because of the world-wide recession.  If this turns out to be the case then Australia's Meat Industry will be solely dependent on our local market.

 

Let us hope that wiser heads now prevail in Canberra than those who allowed free-market ideology to destroy our pork industry.  By flooding Australia with heavily subsidised imported pork they have destroyed the industry.  The fact that these pork exporting countries can no longer afford to subsidise their farmers won't help our pork producers.  It is far too late for most of them.  Many have even slaughtered their breeding sows.

 

News

Do you know of any news that would be of interest to members of the AMIEU? If so, tell us about it by sending us an email.

 Patricia Fernandez Report

 

Hard to believe that by the time you read this your Christmas tree will probably be up, hopefully you would have done all of the Christmas shopping and even more important you may be preparing that fabulous Christmas party.

 

In the meantime we have all been very busy!!, well I did have a break it was sort of forced on me as there was a death in the family which meant that my partner and I had to go to Europe but we did manage to have a holiday whilst we were there.

 

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