AUSTRALIA S FAILURE TO SET ASIDE NATURAL GAS FOR DOMESTIC USE SPELLS DISASTER CAMPAIGN VICTORIA S FINEST HELP STOP GAS PRICE INCREASES & SAVE JOBS!

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1 THE AUSTRALIAN $4.50 (INC GST) ISSUE CAMPAIGN HELP STOP GAS PRICE INCREASES & SAVE JOBS! VICTORIA S FINEST AWU MEMBERS AT WORK IN MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA S FAILURE TO SET ASIDE NATURAL GAS FOR DOMESTIC USE SPELLS DISASTER YOUR UNION PROTECTS YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK GOUGH WHITLAM FAREWELL TO AN AUSTRALIAN LEGEND ASBESTOS WHY WE MUST REMAIN VIGILANT ISBN

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3 in this issue contents { KEEP informed. It's YOUR union and it's YOUR magazine. 4 NATIONAL OPINION National President Bill Ludwig and National Secretary Scott McDine 6 RESERVE OUR GAS Reserving gas for the Australian market is a matter of urgency and the AWU is leading the campaign 12 SWEEPING AWAY THE DUST Asbestos is still a primary OHS risk for Australian workers and their families 16 AWU AT WORK Branch-by-Branch round-up of Union news 24 WAYNE'S WORLD Former Federal Treasurer and AWU member Wayne Swan's must-read new book 26 POSTCARD FROM MELBOURNE In the stylish city of cafés and culture, AWU members are hard at work TROUBLE IN THE SHEDS AWU President Bill Ludwig relives his experiences of the 1956 Shearers' Strike 38 GOOD HEALTH With over 70,000 full-time staff, Queensland Health is alive and kicking with AWU members 42 AN AUSTRALIAN LEGEND With the passing of Gough Whitlam, we recall the passion and drive of one of Australia's greatest Prime Ministers 46 IF I WERE PM Brent Tate, one of the toughest League backs to have pulled on a jersey, kicks some goals as Prime Minister for a day 48 WHO'S WATCHING YOU? Did you know that inappropriate s, comments on social media sites, and out-of-hours activities could get you sacked? AUSTRALIAN WORKERS UNION EDITOR Scott McDine AWU National Secretary AWU TEAM Misha Zelinsky Anil Lambert Nick Lucchinelli Davor Schwarz David McGregor Address: Level 10, Sussex Street Sydney NSW Website: Telephone: (02) Facsimile: (02) BAUER CUSTOM MEDIA EDITOR Kyle Rankin EDITORIAL CONSULTANT Julia Richardson ART DIRECTOR Wayne Allen SUB-EDITOR Aaron Bertram PRODUCTION SERVICES Giovanna Javelosa ADVERTISING PUBLISHING MANAGER Anthony Cowie PUBLISHING MANAGER Nicola O Hanlon BAUER MEDIA GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Matthew Stanton EXECUTIVE GENERAL MANAGER, BAUER CUSTOM MEDIA Niall Murphy Published for The Australian Workers Union (ABN ) by Bauer Media Group (ACN ) 54 Park Street, Sydney NSW All rights reserved. Printed by PMP, Clayton, Vic 3168 and cover printed by Ego Print, Mount Waverley, Vic Distributed by Dynamic Direct, Dingley, Vic Delivered by Australia Post. Articles published in The Australian Worker express the opinion of the authors and not necessarily Bauer Media Group. While all efforts have been made to ensure prices and details are correct at time of printing, these are subject to change. PRIVACY NOTICE This issue of The Australian Worker is published by Bauer Media Pty Limited (Bauer) on behalf of The Australian Workers Union (the Union). The collection, use and disclosure of all personal information is governed by the Australian Workers Union Privacy Policy (the Union Privacy Policy) located at The Union Privacy Policy also sets out how you can access or correct your personal information and lodge a complaint. This issue of The Australian Worker may contain offers, competitions or surveys (Reader Offers). You may be required to provide personal information to enter or to take part in certain Reader Offers. Personal information collected for Reader Offers is collected by the Union, and may be disclosed by the Union to service providers and other organisations (including but not limited to Bauer) to assist the Union in the conduct of the Reader Offer, including the provision of prizes and offers. If any of your personal information is to be provided to other service providers and organisations, this will be made clear as part of the entry form for the Reader Offers, and you will have the option of not providing this information. In addition, the Union provides to Bauer certain personal information that you have previously consented to being provided to the publisher of this magazine, to allow Bauer to distribute this magazine to members. Bauer s use of this data is governed by the Bauer Media Limited Privacy Policy located at If you require further information on how your personal information is used, please contact the Union s Privacy Officer either by at or by mail at Privacy Officer, National Office, The Australian Worker s Union, Level 10, Sussex Street, Sydney NSW THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 3

4 FIRST WORD From the great strike of the 1890s to the shearers BILL LUDWIG NATIONAL PRESIDENT THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES strike of 1956 and to this day, it is unions who have fought for workers' rights and they always will. It is recognising the need for workers to group together and fight back against the powerful who would otherwise snatch everything we have for themselves. Our Union and the Australian Labor Party for that matter started with a shearers strike in the final decade of the 19th century. In 1956 another shearers strike helped shape the AWU s modern purpose. It was a pivotal moment in both AWU history and, as it happens, my own history with the Union. The 1956 strike centred around a disgraceful push from the United Graziers Association to lower shearers wages in line with the wool price, which was slumping at the time. This came, of course, without any guarantees to move wages up during boom periods. This edition of The Australian Worker takes a look back at that moment in time a moment which I believe continues to hold relevance today. At the time, as a shearer in my 20s, I was a different man to who I am today. Yet what offended my sense of justice and put the Union fire in my belly then, is exactly the same as what puts it there today. It is the same thing that has motivated leaders of our Union for 128 years. It is recognising the need for workers to group together and fight back against the powerful who would otherwise snatch everything we have for themselves. These days our Union calls that being stronger together. And that s spot on. It is a fight that will continue for as long as any of us will live. The same forces that brought on the 1890s strike were at work again in Today the Tories try to sell us this line that the time for unionism is over. That there is no longer a need for workers to collectivise. That we have reached the end of history when it comes to the ongoing tussle between profits and wages. It s the same line they ve been trying to sell us since We didn t buy it then, we didn t buy it in 56, and I don t think there's much of a chance of us buying it any time soon. I ve never known an employer to make an application for a wage increase. Every time the ACTU makes a submission to increase the basic wage employers oppose it, regardless of how much or how little it is. And we see that same impulse echoed in the bosses party, the Liberal Party. When they say they re trying to fix the budget, you can bet your bottom dollar who they want to pay for it: working people. The urge to extract more and more from workers, while giving them less and less in exchange, will always be strong. It s human nature. That means the struggle of our Union and others will go on and on for eternity. For as long as there is individual greed, there will always be the need for average working people to band together to stand up for their fair share. 4 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER Ben Swan Queensland Branch Secretary Ben Davis Victorian Branch Secretary Russ Collison Greater NSW Branch Secretary Wayne Hanson South Australian Branch Secretary

5 SCOTT MCDINE NATIONAL SECRETARY POWER FAILURE Federal government support for multinational companies exporting gas means domestic gas prices could triple. But not without a fight! The AWU has launched a national campaign of great importance,"reserve Our Gas", and its message is simple: it s Australia s gas, reserve some for us. It s a message that s desperately needed. Australia is the only gas-exporting nation on earth that doesn t give itself the legal right to reserve a portion of its gas for domestic sale at a domestic price. The US, Canada, Israel, Norway, Malaysia, and many other nations, have laws aimed at ensuring that their citizens do not have to pay the distorted, high global price for their own gas. Australia does not. As a result, our gas prices are set to triple as we become exposed to the high global price, causing one in five heavy manufacturing operations to close. A BIS Shrapnel report, commissioned by the campaign, shows 225,000 jobs will be lost to the Australian economy by 2021 if we allow gas prices to rise as projected. Why are our politicians doing nothing? Well, it seems they ve been convinced by multinational gas exporters that they should be playing by free market rules that no one else in the world is adhering to. We think that s crazy. We're on a mission and we're confident the majority of Australians would agree with us. So our mission is to inform as many people as possible. Thanks to our campaign people are starting to take notice. We ve had individual politicians from the ALP, the National Party, the Palmer { United Party, and the Katter Australia Party, signing our petition. Recently, NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson announced his support. We hope more politicians will follow. We ve also had a string of excellent media interviews and articles around the country, as well as a great response on social media. Of course the major gas exporters are not happy about the "Reserve Our Gas" campaign. Fair enough. They want to make the maximum profit possible. But don t buy the nonsense that our gas export industry would be at risk from gas reservation. Australia is not faced with the all-or-nothing scenario. We can receive all the benefits from exporting the vast majority of our gas, while still maintaining our core national advantage of affordable energy. We also shouldn t buy the argument that Australia doesn t need a reservation scheme because we could simply extract more gas to fill the shortage. Just look at Origin Energy, who recently told shareholders they would be hoarding Australian gas from the market and waiting for global prices to rise further. How could extracting more gas drive down prices if gas companies are prepared to withhold it from us? The "Reserve Our Gas" campaign will continue to gain momentum. We are on the side of workers, their household budgets, and the national interest. 225,000 jobs will be lost to the Australian economy by 2021 if we allow gas prices to rise as projected. first word CONTACT US: POST LETTERS TO: The Editor, The Worker, Level 10, Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000 OR THEM TO: FOLLOW ON LIKE THE AWU FACEBOOK PAGE: facebook.com/australianworkersunion«stephen Price West Australian Branch Secretary Ian Wakefield Tasmanian Branch Secretary Wayne Phillips Port Kembla Branch Secretary Richard Downie Newcastle Branch Secretary THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 5

6 XXXXXXXXXXX We are throwing away hundreds of thousands of jobs, and our national competitive advantage, simply so gas exporters can squeeze a little extra profit out of what is already a spectacularly profitable business. Scott McDine, AWU National Secretary Aerial view of the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities nearing completion on Curtis Island in Queensland. 6 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

7 THE BIG ISSUE IMAGES: GETTY IMAGES, FAIRFAX PHOTOS AND NEWSPIX With prices set to explode, Australia s failure to set aside natural gas for domestic use spells disaster for industry and consumers alike. Paul Robinson reports that the Australian Workers Union has launched the Reserve Our Gas campaign in a bid to bring some sanity to the equation. reserve THERE S A DARK STORM CLOUD BUILDING ON THE HORIZON as the Lucky Country starts to push its luck a little too far. For quite a while now we ve been allowing well, actively encouraging with every investment incentive under the sun foreign-owned multinationals to dig up and ship offshore Australia s inexhaustible stock of natural resources. Coal, iron ore, gold, uranium, you name it, a multinational has made us a lot of empty promises, run a bunch of slick ads on TV telling us how good tomorrow s going to be, ripped the resource out of the ground and hightailed it when the well/mine/seam ran dry. Mining and energy are important parts of the Australian economy, but increasingly we are seeing less commitment from governments and multinationals to ensure Australia s natural resource wealth leads to downsteam economic activity and manufacturing jobs. Trumpeting the level playing field mantra, governments have given them tax breaks that the ordinary Aussie can only dream about. While this can make a handful of Australians incredibly wealthy, for the most part, the average Australian hasn t really done that well on the deal. Gove in the Northern Territory is just the latest mining town to be left in the lurch and abandoned when a big company in this case, Rio Tinto decided its executive bonuses were feeling the pinch, so it would pull the pin on an entire community. With our abundant reserves, our gas prices have historically remained low by world standards. It s always been affordable. This is about to change. In many other parts of the planet, gas reserves are controlled by the state. In Russia, for instance, where the big gas companies are often run by ex-military and KGB figures from the communist era, Vladimir Putin used to happily turn off the gas tap in GASwww.awu.net.au THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 7 [OUR]

8 THE BIG ISSUE The Beach Energy Cooper Basin oil and gas fields. A bearded dragon lizard is mesmerised by the Endeavour-1 shale gas well drilling rig near Innamincka, South Australia. Duke Energy Australia launch of the gas trading hub, Longford, Victoria. Vichub connects the eastern pipeline and the Tasmanian gas pipeline to the gasnet system. winter to make sure troublesome neighbours such as Ukraine kept to the Moscow party line. Our government is effectively handing over control of Australian gas supplies to foreign-owned multinationals so that they can ensure Aussies toe the line and, next year, we re all going to feel the hurt as gas prices go through the roof. New technology means Australian gas can be liquefied economically for ease of shipping. Multinational gas companies have been licensed to extract gas from major new Australian gas fields and export it by sea mainly to Asia, where demand is voracious. These gas exports begin in earnest from mid-2015 when BG Group s Curtis Island project, in Queensland, ramps up operations. Shipments from Santos Gladstone venture and Origin Energy s Australia Pacific project will be hard on their heels. More than $63 billion is being invested in LNG (liquefied natural gas) export projects in Queensland. This is serious money, on the face of it, a good thing more infrastructure, more exports, more jobs. That s the spin from the federal government and think tanks such as the Grattan Institute. These projects will be fully operational by LNG is a great industry that should be allowed to prosper. However, there is a downside. Gas currently costs approximately $4 per gigajoule in Australia compared to up to $18 per gigajoule in Asian markets such as Japan and Korea. If multinationals can command increased prices in Asia, will they still supply the local market at the old price? After investing billions of dollars? Not a snowball s chance in hell. There is currently nothing to stop them. Prime Minister Tony Abbott boasted in Texas at an event hosted, interestingly, by BHP Billiton, Chevron and ConocoPhillips that Australia would soon be the world s number one LNG exporter. He wants us to be a cheap energy superpower. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane reckons standing in the way of exports to hold back prices doesn t make economic sense. The federal government is acting as though this is a done deal, that there s no alternative and that the consumer just has to buck up and cop it on the chin. Debate has been shut down. Head in the sand, the government doesn t want to talk about energy prices any more. Small businesses, already under the pump with high overheads and minimal profit margins, will suffer as will Australian manufacturing industries. Manufacturers are already finding it more difficult to get new gas supply contracts to maintain current operations. This is because more lucrative export contracts have been locked in. FACT Local gas prices will explode next year. Energy retailers have already been given the go-ahead to increase gas prices by an average 17.8 per cent over the next 24 months. Average Australian households will suffer as gas prices spike across the country. NSW and Victoria have already been slugged with a 20 per cent increase for 2014/15, taking the average annual household bill from $901 to $1033. Melbourne, where 90 per cent of homes rely on gas, will be hit hardest. Those less well-off will be hurting. A low income means little leeway, and the most vulnerable social groups are always hit hardest by even the smallest of utility price rises. This will be a king hit. 8 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

9 UNION BUSINESS A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker operated by Energy Advance Co, a unit of Tokyo Gas Co, moored at ConocoPhillips LNG facilities in Darwin. FACT A BIS Shrapnel report demonstrates that higher gas prices will force 20 per cent of heavy manufacturers to close within five years. The net direct impact on industry output will be negative $58 billion and the ultimate flow-on effect a loss in the region of a whopping $101 billion. All in all, a much greater disaster for industry than the contentious carbon tax ever was! The threat to gas supply is already costing Australia as several high-profile investments have either been put on hold or gone elsewhere. For example, Incitec Pivot decided to construct a $969 million ammonia plant in Louisiana rather than Australia. German chemical giant BASF has expressed doubts over progressing with the $1.5 billion it had slated for Australian investment. And a billiondollar methanol plant Australian company Coogee Energy was going to build in Laverton, Victoria, has also been relocated to the US. The manufacturing industry sector is worried enough to release a report by Deloitte Access Economics revealing that rising gas prices will curtail output in mining and manufacturing at levels significantly larger than those associated with repeal of the carbon tax. The coalition of industry groups who commissioned the report a pretty representative cross-section including the Australian Industry Group, the Aluminium Council, the Energy Users Association, Food and Grocery Council, Plastics and Chemicals, and the Steel Institute emphasises that a hike in gas prices will cost nearly 15,000 manufacturing jobs. All these reasons are why major manufacturers and employers such as Alcoa and Australian Paper have given their support to the AWU s Reserve Our Gas campaign. FAST FACTS 17.8% = average projected increase in retail gas prices over next two years. $435 = average annual gas bill increase for Melbourne users over the next three years. $118 BILLION = contraction to Australian manufacturing output % = percentage of Australian gas production AWU would like to see reserved for Australian domestic use. 66% = current gas producer profit ratio. 235,000 = potential number of job losses attributable to higher gas prices by $34 BILLION = contraction to Australian mining output. 60% = amount of annual gas production reserved for national use by Israel. $255 = average annual gas bill increase for Sydney users over the next three years. 15% = reduction in manufacturing attributable to higher gas prices by $4.5 BILLION = contraction to Australian agricultural output. 0% = amount of annual gas production currently reserved for national use by Australia. THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 9

10 XXXXXXXXXXX It is Alcoa s strongly held view that a reservation policy is essential to provide some form of energy security for Australia. It is feasible to have a vibrant and growing LNG sector and still meet the needs of the community. Alan Cransberg, Managing Director, Alcoa Australia. 10 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

11 THE BIG ISSUE An aerial view shows Apache Corp s oil and gas processing plant on Varanus Island, off the northwestern coast of Australia. ANSWER SUPPORT THE awu CAMPAIGN With its Reserve Our Gas campaign, the AWU is demanding the federal government pass legislation to set aside a percentage of natural gas for domestic consumption. Because we have such abundant reserves, only a relatively small percentage, per cent tops, would have to be earmarked for local consumption to keep prices affordable. The premise is simple: that Australians should pay fair Australian prices for Australian gas. Big gas producers can afford it. According to the BIS Shrapnel report, gas producers already have a skyscraper profit ratio of 66 per cent. Compare that to 32 per cent for iron ore producers and you get the idea. With a gas-reservation policy in place, gas companies will still be able to generate huge profits through exports, but Australia will also be able to retain its competitive energy advantage. Gas exporters and (some) politicians think the obvious answer to this problem is to allow them open slather on coal seam gas (CSG) production. The fact is that no matter how much CSG is recovered it won t significantly affect the global price of natural gas. The problem of gas price hikes due to export market linkages would remain. And Australia is currently producing more gas from conventional sources than could be used in the domestic market. For more information and to sign the Union s petition, go to reserveourgas.com.au Gas reservation is the obvious answer Unlike every other gas exporter, Australia has no laws to keep a percentage of the extracted gas solely for domestic use and not linked to global pricing. Astoundingly, we are the one and only country in the world prepared to abandon national advantage with regard to gas exports. Countries such as Indonesia, Israel and Egypt have such laws safeguarding up to 60 per cent of its offshore natural gas for domestic use in Israel s case. In other gas-producing nations such as Russia, Qatar, Norway and Algeria, predominantly state-owned companies control the industry, ensuring domestic gas security. In the USA natural gas exports are regulated by the Department of Energy in the public interest. Canada has similar laws. In this country, only Western Australia has enacted a gas-reservation policy where 15 per cent of gas produced in WA has to remain in the state, safeguarding local domestic supply at a reasonable price. Despite the warnings of vested (self) interest groups, this hasn t affected either LNG investment or export earnings in the slightest. In fact, since reservation was introduced in 2006, $88 billion has been invested in WA gas production. WA Premier Colin Barnett reckons it s a no-brainer and that the rest of the country really should get with the program. THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 11

12 If you look at the statistics, asbestos-related disease will peak around about Take western Sydney, for example, where one in three houses built in the 80s were made with asbestos. Michelle Burgess, Director, Workers Health Centre It really is a lottery. Some people work with it for years and years and nothing ever happens and other people are desperately unlucky. Researchers seem to think that there may be some genetic susceptibility. Victoria Keays, Senior Associate, Asbestos and Dust Diseases Department, Maurice Blackburn PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK SCOTT; INSET BY GEORGE FETTING 12 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

13 UNION BUSINESS SWEEPING AWAY THE DUST AWU members along with other workers around the world have been hit hard by asbestos-related diseases with many losing their lives through workplace exposure. Although the number of sufferers may have marginally stabilised, Michael Blayney discovers that experts warn strongly that a vigilant approach is still essential. After decades of government indecision and commercial ambivalence or even hostility, asbestos was finally banned in Australia in It is now illegal to store, mine, import, sell, install or reuse any products containing this potentially hazardous mineral. The Australian Workers Union welcomed this long overdue ban. However, since then, many of our members have lost their lives through workplace exposure. Asbestos miners, tradespeople, labourers and even family members of workers continue to be affected. While the federal government adopts a Risk Assessment and Management Approach, the AWU supports the Prioritised Removal Approach (PRA), eliminating all asbestos from our environment by We are in favour of assessing and addressing the problem over a period of time, and a 2030 target is a reasonable and achievable one, says Ian Wakefield, AWU Tasmanian Branch Secretary. The risk management approach is all about covering it up, leaving it there and hoping it will all go away. Doing this simply exports the problem for future generations to clean up. In a workplace or industrial environment, asbestos is easily moved or vibrated, emitting dust. We need to do the risk assessment, but then remove the stuff over a period of time with the eventual aim of getting rid of all of it, he says. The Gillard Labor Government made a commitment to prioritised removal with then Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten saying, asbestos is a cruel, indiscriminate killer and because of its widespread use over much of the 20th century, it remains a persistent threat to Australians. The government views the identification and safe removal of asbestos as an absolute priority. In 2013, the Gillard Labor Government formed the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), developing a national strategic plan to improve asbestos management in Australia. THE Prioritised removal of asbestos was a cornerstone of that strategy. The Liberal Party s record on asbestos is certainly not so progressive. In 2007, Tony Abbott (then Health Minister in Howard s Liberal Government) questioned terminally-ill asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton s integrity, before criticising his petition to place a cancer-curing drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as a stunt. In response, Bernie Banton understandably called Abbott a gutless creep. In her role as a corporate lawyer for CSR in the 1980s, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, fought against compensation for Western Australian asbestos victims in the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom from which about 1000 people have died from asbestos-related diseases. Furthermore, in May this year, ASEA was one of 42 government bodies earmarked for abolition by the Commission of Audit as part of the Abbott Government s cost-cutting recommendations. Since then, Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, has refused to commit to the agency s motives. Prime Minister Tony Abbott must guarantee that he won t cut the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency or scale back its important work, said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in October. This shouldn t be about saving money it should be about saving lives. HEALTH HAZARD It could take more than 20 years after exposure for an asbestos-related disease to flare up. Thankfully, most workers exposed to asbestos don t develop a reaction. The worst-case scenario is mesothelioma, a debilitating form of lung cancer with symptoms including extreme pain when breathing. There is no cure and fatality generally occurs within a year of diagnosis. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can also lead to asbestosis and pleural plaque, both respiratory and lung diseases. THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 13

14 UNION BUSINESS Which industries are at risk? There are a few industries that you wouldn t necessarily expect, says Victoria Keays, from the law firm Maurice Blackburn. Truck drivers have a reasonably high incidence of asbestosrelated disease. Traditionally it s been tradespeople, plumbers, carpenters and builders who ve been contracting these diseases, but we re seeing women who have been washing their husbands work clothes and children who ve been around domestic renovations. What are some products that contain asbestos? Fire insulation panels, brake pads and lining, clutches, pipe lagging, insulation, fire retardant blankets and boilermakers gloves. How to spot it on-site Between 1945 and 1980, asbestos was widely used in the Australian construction industry, a key component in fibro cement, insulation, fireproofing, pipework, paint, floor coverings, ceiling tiles, and roofing materials. It s easy to spot on some worksites, says Michelle Burgess from Sydney s Workers Health Centre. The most common form of asbestos is that old dimpled fibro or the fibro roofing that s called Super 6, that wavy looking roofing material. If you work on a home with broken fibro board it poses a potential risk. FAST FACTS THE AWU NATIONAL ASBESTOS REGISTER Maintained by The Australian Workers Union and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, this register is a free service allowing people to make a formal record of their asbestos exposure. Currently more than 6000 have recorded their details. It s important to do that now, says AWU Tasmanian Branch Secretary, Ian Wakefield. Asbestos may not be something that will affect you today, but it could take a grip in 20 years time. Since 1980, nearly 34,000 Australians have died from asbestos-related illnesses. Australia In was a global leader in its use of asbestos materials. Approximately 1 IN 3 homes built in Australia between the end of WWII and 1987 contain asbestos in some form. October, media reported that 16 PEOPLE living near a factory in Sunshine North, Victoria, have died and eight have fallen ill from mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Tests on ceiling cavities near the old Wunderlich factory have revealed widespread contamination. In In Australia has the HIGHEST per capita incidence of mesothelioma in the world. 2013, those in the year age group recorded the LARGEST numbers diagnosed with mesothelioma. total, 575 PEOPLE were diagnosed with mesothelioma in This compares with 619 cases reported for To date, the highest overall number of new cases has been reported for 2007 (674). 14 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

15 Ivan McMurray with a chest x-ray showing the affects of asbestos poisoning. Ivan worked for James Hardie Industries and became affected by asbestos poisoning through working with the company s products. Riding the next wave Australia has lived, and continues to live, through two waves of asbestos-related disease the first from asbestos mining and the second in manufacturing. The third wave stems from the use of asbestos in industry, mainly construction. The fourth wave of asbestos-related deaths is now upon us, mainly home renovators and family members who came into contact with asbestos during a DIY project. Safety experts warn of a fifth wave: the consequence of uncontrolled or unsafe removal of asbestos products by workers in the removal industry. In terms of workers exposed in the actual mining and manufacture of the material, they re mostly dead now, says Michelle Burgess, Director at the Workers Health Centre in Sydney. We now have the wives who washed the overalls, children who sat on Dad s knee after work, construction workers and home renovators. We re treating a local woman, 32 years of age with three young children. She has mesothelioma purely because she was dusted when her parents were renovating her family home when she was younger. UNION BUSINESS INTERVIEW LAURIE APPLEBY Tasmanian Laurie Appleby has been fighting for justice since contracting an asbestos-related disease in Working for Goliath Cement (now Cement Australia), the labourer worked at the company s Railton site for 10 years, manufacturing asbestos sheets throughout the 1970s. I had a problem with my breathing in the late 70s. I went to my doctor and he said it was caused by the dust and suggested the best thing to do was quit. I asked him to put it in writing, but he wouldn t. He was probably worried about the liability. So I pulled the pin. In 1994, I found myself short of breath. I went to the doctor again and I thought it might have been heart problems. They said I had pleural plaque (thickening or scarring on the lung s lining) on my lungs. The way the law was set up in Tasmania, I had no hope of getting any compensation. We tried to change the law in Tassie and spent around 12 years doing that. I consulted a lawyer, and I kept telling her that the legislation was going to change so not to rush it. She pushed it through, so she could get her whack. I got paid $50,000 and she wound up with $30,000 of that. Out of the $20,000 I ended up paying a lawyer in Queensland who helped me. I ended up with just over $12,000. I have mild asbestosis at the moment. A lot of blokes are dead now, but I m still plodding along, I m still above the ground. Thanks to hard workers like Laurie Appleby, Tasmania now has a state-funded scheme that pays victims with asbestos-related terminal illnesses upwards of $250,000. If A CONSULTATION to determine an asbestosrelated disease should include an X-ray of the lungs, a lung function test, and analysis and screening by a radiologist and specialist respiratory physician. There is NO SAFE LEVEL of exposure to asbestos. Any exposure increases the risk of disease. If you are unsure if a material is asbestos, treat it like it is, and call the Union immediately. you plan on moving or removing more than 10 square metres of asbestos, you MUST call on a licensed removalist. But it s a good idea to call one anyway. IF IN DOUBT GIVE YOUR UNION A SHOUT! The AWU takes your work safety seriously. If you have any doubts about safe practices at your workplace, contact your AWU Branch office immediately. COMPENSATION Although health will be your number one priority if you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation. Compensation depends on how and where you were exposed, says Victoria Keays from Maurice Blackburn. Cases are judged differently in different states and territories, but compensation can be distributed for pain and suffering damages, for past and future medical expenses, for past and future care and assistance which you may need from family and friends, and also for potentially a loss of earnings. THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 15

16 awu at work {... trade unions Clarence Darrow legendary American labor lawyer STRONGER ONLINE Keep in touch with YOUR Union twitter.com/awunion facebook.com/australianworkersunion national news The 4 th Annual National Delegate Leadership Program (NDLP) took place in October, recognising and developing the skills of 16 Delegates from around the country. Delegates participated in sessions delving into the AWU s proud history, work, health and safety updates, updates to the Fair Work Act including recent precedents, and negotiation and public speaking skills. Delegates were then invited to apply for the Laurie Short Scholarship, one of the most prestigious training opportunities offered by the Australian Workers Union. On invitation from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union (IAM) in Maryland, USA, (with whom the AWU has an AWU National Secretary Scott McDine with AWU Delegates who took part in the 4th Annual National Delegate Leadership Program. TOP-SHELF TRAINING FOR DELEGATES international working relationship), two AWU participants are placed at their Winpisinger Education Facility to undertake a comprehensive Leadership 1 Program. The week-long program includes seminars on labour history, government and politics, human rights and the role of union Delegates. It also provides an opportunity for our Delegates to work with, share stories, and interact on a global level with participants from all across the USA and Canada to increase their skills and knowledge. Returning Delegates have reported that it was one of the most educational and inspirational trips they have undertaken. 16 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

17 QLD { awu at work Shock! 15% of surveyed workers accept risk-taking at work. Safe Work Australia survey 2014 GLADSTONE CHAMPION AWU Delegate Tony (Humpty) Arandale from APLNG Bechtel recently won the Australian gold medal the for Indonesian martial art, Silat Langkah Baru. Humpty also teaches local kids the sport in Gladstone and qualified to represent Australia in the 2015 world championships in Thailand. Humpty has been an AWU member for the last eight years and is currently a rigger at APLNG Bechtel in Gladstone where he is also a site Delegate. It s never been more important to be a member of the AWU, he said. Workers are under attack and being in the Union means we have collective strength. Being part of the Union means you and your mates stick together and look after one another and you have someone advocating for you. Well done Humpty! Tony (Humpty) Arandale is Australia s gold medalist for the martial art Silat Langkah Baru. FAIR GO FOR COUNCIL WORKERS Queensland s Liberal government has recently started a program of changing awards across a wide range of industries. The new Local Government Industry Award was one of the first to be handed down by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. The Local Government Association of Queensland, representing councils right across the state, tried very hard to remove conditions, lower the award safety net, and reduce workers take-home pay. The AWU fought extremely hard through this process to ensure council workers across Queensland got a fair go. However, some important changes have been made to allowances and many workers will face a cut in their take-home pay. This process has followed other draconian changes to industrial relations law in Queensland affecting job security, redundancy payments and workers access to their union. Now the new award has been handed down, members can commence bargaining where agreements have expired or are due to expire shortly. We need to get on the front foot and ensure through the bargaining process that we achieve a decent pay increase and protect current conditions. This will require every worker standing up and letting councils know we are not backing down. Bargaining meetings are already happening in some councils. Visit the campaign website to find out more. Ben Swan meeting Kevin Grace (Principal), Jim Chalmers MP, and students from Calamvale Special School. CANBERRA HERE WE COME The AWU Queensland Branch was proud to sponsor students from the Calamvale Special School for their trip to Canberra next year to visit Parliament, the Australian War Memorial and other great sites at our nation s capital. The school s aim is to ensure every student gets the opportunity to visit Canberra throughout their time at Calamvale Special School. You can make a tax deductible donation, too. Use your name and as reference so the school can send a receipt. Bank Name: DGRGIFT BSB: Account: THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 17

18 awu at work greater nsw { Labor cannot stand still. It must not retreat. It must go on, or go under. Harry Bridges Australian-born leader of the US Longshore & Warehouse Union. From left: The AWU Greater NSW Branch 2014 Conference; Branch Secretary, Russ Collison; NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson with pledge signatories; Branch Assistant Secretary, Stephen Bali. GREATER NSW BRANCH 2014 CONFERENCE Hailed as a major success by Delegates, the 2014 AWU Greater NSW Branch Conference hosted a wide range of activities and speakers from industry, law, superannuation and the union movement. The conference was launched by Leader of the NSW Opposition John Robertson MP, who spoke on key issues at the next NSW election including hospitals, TAFE, infrastructure, jobs and public sell-off of assets such as electricity poles and wires. Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon spoke on the pledges that they wanted all NSW election candidates to commit to. They included stopping the sell-off of major public assets, maintaining penalty rates, restoring workers compensation rights and developing a fairer tax system. John Robertson encouraged a team of candidates to sign the pledge including AWU members Chris Minns (Kogarah), Hugh McDermott (Prospect) and Greg Warren (Campbelltown) as well as other candidates including Edmond Atalla (Mt Druitt), Emma Hussar (Penrith) and Jihad Dib (Lakemba). AWU National Secretary Scott McDine and National Vice President Misha Zelinsky spoke about the Reserve Our Gas campaign. Australia is the only country in the world that has gas reserves and no policy to maintain some gas for domestic needs at domestic prices. Anticipated price rises of 30 per cent per year will cripple manufacturing and home consumers. You can support the campaign by signing the petition at and liking the Reserve Our Gas Facebook page. AWU Greater NSW Branch Secretary Russ Collison updated Delegates on the Branch s activities and the key challenges it faces. Australia Institute economist Richard Denniss brought a human perspective to the nation s economic challenges, with AWU Greater NSW Branch Assistant Secretary Stephen Bali, Masselos & Co lawyer Michael Wright, and Mary Yaager (Unions NSW Campaign coordinator) also addressed the conference. 18 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

19 NEWCASTLE { awu at work Shock! 36% of surveyed workers think risks are unavoidable at their workplace. Safe Work Australia survey 2014 DSI SIGNS UP TO RESERVE OUR GAS AWU members and Delegates from DSI Bennetts Green took the collective action to sign the Reserve Our Gas campaign petition. Senior Delegate Tom Matheson was instrumental in rallying our members to the cause. Other Delegates on hand to lend their support to the national campaign were Mick AWU members and Delegates at DSI Bennetts Green. Ghoulmieh, Kevin Deas and Josh Daniel. The strong AWU membership on this site can always be called upon for support. We have a committed membership on site, with great Delegate structures. This always helps us to mobilise our membership for campaigns such as this, Tom said. COMPANY SUPPORT Tomago Aluminium, MolyCop Waratah and Arrium Steel understand the significance of the AWU s Reserve Our Gas campaign. Tomago spends upwards of $25 million a year on gas and see any effort toward a more level playing field on costs, as a major step forward in the plant s ability to compete on the world aluminium producing stage. The interest being shown by everyone from floor to board level in these significant workplaces shows that the domestic price of gas touches many Australians. The AWU Newcastle Branch is educating workers at the relevant sites and urging follow-up by encouraging staff to sign the state-wide petition, as well as providing all other members with a pledge card and return postage. Every member of the Newcastle, Central Coast and Northern Regions Branch has been given the opportunity to be a part of this important campaign. PEACE AT LAST AT LYSAGHT Two years ago, the Bluescope Lysaght site at Cardiff in Newcastle had a reputation of being a difficult site to organise with low Union membership and a divided workforce. Fraught with issues, workers had low confidence in themselves and in the Union s ability to resolve their problems. Ongoing in-fighting characterised the site, especially between the two operating shifts, day and afternoon. With their three-year Enterprise Agreement about to expire at the end of 2013, they were unlikely to get a good outcome without better unity. After initial visits to the site by the AWU in early 2013, it was obvious they were a great bunch of guys that just needed to fix a few issues in their workplace. Throughout 2013, issues raised by members were dealt with satisfactorily, fostering improved rapport between members and management. With increased AWU presence at the plant, as Union values and solidarity grew, membership grew to 95 per cent, with Delegates and Co-Delegates elected for both shifts and a new sense of solidarity. In September 2013 an enthusiastic bargaining committee was elected, a very moderate log of claims was collected from the members and negotiations for a replacement Enterprise Agreement got underway. The members asked for a 3.5 per cent per annum wage increase but the company was only offering 2.95 per cent. As negotiations became more protracted, a protected action ballot was conducted and the vote was a resounding 100 per cent in favour of the action. Unlimited overtime bans and work stoppages were put in place and the feeling of togetherness and empowerment ran high. In October 2013 the remainder of the non-members at the AWU Newcastle Branch members at Bluescope Lysaght. Newcastle plant filled out membership cards and Lysaght Cardiff became a 100 per cent AWU site. Overtime bans and stoppages leading into the busy Christmas period saw every member rallying in front of the plant on the busy roadway. These actions and two No votes in company-initiated EA ballots was enough to shift the company to offer monetary gift vouchers that equalled the same value as the 3.5 per cent wage increase the members were asking for. A final EA ballot was conducted and the proud membership voted 100 per cent to accept the company s offer. The camaraderie and solidarity continues at the site and the company recognises the solidarity that now exists among the workforce. THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER 19

20 port kembla SA AS STRONG AS STEEL AWU members rally to help save Australian shipbuilding. STEEL UNIONS SOLID BlueScope Steel has again failed to create a split between the Combined Steel Unions. The Company has pushed to break the unity between the unions by introducing a trade operator career path model in a number of departments within the plant. For many months now the company has been peddling fear and propaganda about what it wants to do with surplus members once it places tradespersons into traditional operator roles. The threat of taking tradesmen off shift and putting them onto day work, potentially costing trades thousands of dollars, is not having the effect the company was hoping for. A number of CSU Delegates and members meetings have been held and ORGANISING IN CONSTRUCTION Sean Burke is making new inroads into the construction industry within the AWU Port Kembla Branch boundaries. Sean commenced with the Branch in January this year and has concentrated his efforts into raising the profile of the Union in the civil construction industry. Sean is working extremely hard within members have continuously held the line and rejected the trade operator model. Along with this attack, management has also attempted to contract out the production and maintenance tasks within the raw materials, sinter plant and bulk berth departments of BlueScope Steel. At a time when the industry is facing a downturn in manufacturing, it is hard to understand why they are attacking workers on the shop floor. It should be a time for all parties in the industry to work together to maintain a strong and viable steel industry for Australia. The Combined Steel Unions in Port Kembla will stick together, maintain unity and fight the good fight if needed. We know that workers only win by being stronger together. the traffic control industry and has recruited a number of new members. He has also commenced discussions for an Enterprise Agreement expected to finalised early next year. A more detailed report will be given in the next edition of The Australian Worker. AWU MEMBERS FIGHT TO SAVE AUSSIE SHIPBUILDING AWU South Australian Branch members at both the Submarine site and the Air Warfare Defence Project site have been campaigning with the AMWU and CEPU to save shipbuilding in South Australia and indeed Australia in general. The federal government has intimated that it prefers to buy the next generation submarines off the shelf thereby jeopardising the jobs of thousands of Australian workers both directly and indirectly involved in the Defence Industry. It has up to now actively discouraged Australian shipbuilders from tendering for any defence work. AWU members have rallied at both lunchtime meetings and indeed rallies most notably on 14 October when the Senate Committee was in Adelaide to receive submissions from interested parties. The AWU was also present at the inquiry along with workers who provided the hearing with verbal submissions and responses to the senators questions. It beggars belief that Australia is prepared to outsource its defence obligations to its citizens, said Peter Lamps, Acting AWU South Australian Branch Secretary. For a government to potentially handover some $250 billion dollars over the next 30 or so years to foreign countries to build and maintain new generation submarines and ships into the future is reprehensible, Peter said. The Union is committed to change the mindset of this government. Recent indications are that certain Coalition senators are revisiting their previous stance as to local shipbuilding by tacitly now coming out in support of local shipbuilding. However, the fight will not be won until it is confirmed that local shipbuilding will continue. 20 THE AUSTRALIAN WORKER

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