Labour bites

University accused of bad faith bargaining

Negotiations have broken down between the University of Wollongong and the National Tertiary Education Union over a new enterprise agreement.

The university has decided to bypass the NTEU and put a new agreement straight to a staff vote. The union has responded with threats to take the university to the Fair Work Commission for failing to bargain in good faith.

“University management have clearly attempted to exclude us from bargaining,” a member of the NTEU bargaining team said.

Negotiations over numerous issues, including moves to create a separate leave entitlement for domestic violence victims, have been going on for more than a year.

During the previous round of negotiations (which spanned two years) the university applied the same tactic and was successful in securing a yes vote from the majority of its staff. (Source: Illawarra Mercury)

Conservatives pledge to curb public sector strikes

The UK Conservative Party says it will make it harder to call strikes in certain ‘core’ public services if it wins the general election. Under the plans, a strike affecting health, transport, fire services or schools would need the backing of 40% of eligible union members.

Currently, a strike is valid if backed by a simple majority of those balloted however only postal ballots are allowed.

The Tories have already proposed a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots, which unions say is “anti-democratic”.

General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trade Union (GMB) General Secretary Paul Kenny said: “Only 16 out of 650 elected members of parliament secured the support of 40% of those entitled to vote in their parliamentary constituency area election in 2010.

“Only 15 Tory MPs out of 303 secured that level of support. They had no hesitation in forming a government in 2010 without securing 40% support from the electorate.” (Source: BBC)

UN petition on ending child labour

In an historic meeting, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi delivered a global petition on child labour to United Nations (UN) General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in New Delhi, India. More than 550,000 people around the world signed the petition urging the UN to make abolition of child labour a key part of the world body’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), now under discussion.

“The most shameful commentary of today’s society is that slavery still exists, and our children are the worst sufferers,” Satyarthi said in an address at the event. “There cannot be any excuse for this heinous crime against humanity. There must not be any delay in ensuring their freedom. We have to act now and create a future where all children are free to be children.”

Satyarthi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his decades of often dangerous work in rescuing child labourers and providing them with safe havens. In 1998 he created the Global March Against Child Labor as part of his tireless efforts to end child labour.

Gaza deadliest place for UN civilian staff

At least 61 people working for the United Nations were killed in 2014 — up from 58 in 2013 and 37 in 2012 — the UN Staff Union claims, fingering Gaza as the deadliest locale for civilian workers.

The Staff Union said that last year’s victims included 33 peacekeepers, 16 civilians, nine contractors and three consultants.

Mali was the deadliest place for UN personnel, with 28 peacekeepers killed in the volatile north between June and October, it said. Gaza was the deadliest place for UN civilian staff with 11 killed during last summer’s war with Israel.

Scores of UN staff and associated personnel were also detained, taken hostage and kidnapped during 2014, the Staff Union said.

Staff Union President Ian Richards urged the General Assembly last week to do more to protect UN staff who face increased dangers. (Source: The Times of Israel)