Labour bites

Paid domestic violence leave

Tasmanian bootmaker Blundstone is encouraging other businesses to follow its lead and offer employees paid family violence leave.

From July, the company will give its 90 workers in Australia and New Zealand 10 days a year of paid leave if they experience family violence. Leave will also be available for people who are caring for family violence victims but do not directly experience it themselves.

Blundstone’s chief executive Steve Gunn believes family violence leave should become a universal entitlement, and businesses should take the initiative to offer it without being forced to by law.

“This is a massive societal problem, so we need to be doing whatever we can to highlight it, and to do our best to help people who are affected by it and hopefully reduce its incidence,” he said. (Source: ABC)

Doctors oppose child detention laws

Doctors are calling for the government to amend the Australian Border Protection Act to allow doctors to publicly disclose failures in detention health care.

Dr Paul Bauert, Director of Pediatrics at Royal Darwin Hospital, says he and his staff have ethical concerns about sending children with psychological disorders back to Nauru and other centres.

“We’re in a bit of an ethical bind in that we recognise that this is causing ongoing damage and probably permanent damage to many of them,” he said.

He has called on the AMA to review its policy on asylum seekers and to ramp up opposition to the Federal Government’s anti-whistle blower laws.

Dr Bauert called for an end to the detention of children and the need for doctors to identify vulnerable children in light of allegations of sexual abuse on Nauru.

Doctors claim they have a right and a responsibility to blow the whistle. (Source: Herald Sun)

Queen’s speech causes criticism

Teachers’ unions in the United Kingdom are fiercely criticising the education policy included in the Queen’s Speech, outlining the Government’s mandate as the new session of parliament opened following the national election.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) accused the government, run by a Conservative Party majority, of “claiming that it cares about standards” while really carrying out an “extended and accelerated privatisation of our school system”.

This Queen’s Speech “entrenches inequality”, said Blower. Deploring “a generation of stressed pupils, with teachers working 60 hour weeks, too little of which is spent doing work which is of relevance to pupils”, Blower went on to say that accountability is the over-arching issue, and it is currently way out of hand.

“We are testing children within an inch of their lives and the vibrancy and love of learning that should be at the centre of the curriculum is all but lost,” she said.

“Trade unions are an important part of the fabric of this country,” she said, adding that working people fought long and hard for the right to be represented fairly and to challenge injustice in the workplace. “To try and legislate to take that voice away is shameful and one which will be challenged,” she warned. (Source: Education International)

Vale, Joan Kirner.

Joan Kirner often described as the “working class girl made good” was Victoria’s first and only female premier. Her death in May is mourned by the labour movement, by those involved in the movements she championed (Emily’s List for example) and by those in the community with a deep sense of social justice and equality.

Her upbringing instilled these values along with an unswerving belief in educational opportunities for all. A long time advocate for public education, she was president of the Australian Council of State School Organisations until she entered the Victorian Upper House in 1982. By 1985, she was a front bench minister, moved to the lower house in 1988 and realised a life ambition when she took over the education portfolio introducing staged and widespread reforms including reduced class sizes and increased retention rates.

By 1989 Joan was deputy premier and on John Cain’s retirement with the state in economic decline she accepted what was the poison chalice of becoming premier. Kirner never accepted the inevitability of the defeat of her government and even the conservative press acknowledged after Jeff Kennett’s election that Victoria’s economic recovery began under her premiership.

After politics Joan remained active in public service and her death is a significant loss. (Source: SMH)