Labour bites

Minister backs doctors on kids in detention

Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennessy has thrown her support behind doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital who have refused to discharge asylum seeker children back into detention.

Doctors at the hospital are concerned about the welfare of their dozens of patients and say it would be unethical to discharge them to unsafe conditions that could compromise their health.

“I’m extremely proud to be the health minister in a state where its doctors and nurses are putting the interest of children first,” Ms Hennessy said. “If the staff of the Royal Children’s Hospital come to the clinical view that it is not in the interests of those children to go back into detention, then we will support them.”

Defying new federal laws threatening two years’ jail for health workers who speak out against immigration detention centre conditions, more than 400 of the hospital’s doctors stood together on Friday demanding children be released from detention.

“We see a whole range of physical, mental, emotional and social disturbances that are really severe and we have no hope of improving these things when we have to discharge our patients back into detention,” one pediatrician said. (Source SMH)

Democrats back paid family leave

Paid family leave was the one workplace issue that received extended air time in a recent US Democratic primary debate. CNN raised it in a question that focused on affordability and the effect of mandatory leave on small business owners. The top three Democrats all came out forcefully in favour of a federal leave requirement. Hillary Clinton, in particular, defended a federal leave law by pointing to California, which has had mandatory paid leave since 2004. “It has not had the ill effects that Republicans are always saying it will have,” Clinton said, saying fears that paid leave threatens small business are simply another “Republican scare tactic”.

Former Maryland Gov Martin O’Malley and Sen Bernie Sanders echoed Clinton’s remarks, with Sanders calling it an “international embarrassment” that the United States was the only advanced industrial democracy without paid leave. (Source: Politico)

UK draconian trade union bill

The UK’s new Conservative government is proposing a new round of anti-union legislation, which many claim, is the most far reaching attack on British trade unions since the 1980s.

The Bill proposes a ban on the use of the ‘check-off system’ (the automatic deduction of union subs from workers’ pay) in the public sector. This will affect about 3.8 million members.

But apart from hitting the financial security of trade unions, the Bill also gives the government the power to rewrite collective agreements to impose limits on the time that workplace representatives in the public sector can spend on trade union duties.

The other threat to public sector unions are the new proposals for the right to strike, which add to the body of restrictions inherited from the Thatcher years – restrictions that were never repealed by successive Labour governments between 1997 and 2010. (Source: Equal Times)

Bunnings rosters close stores

In New Zealand some staff of the hardware chain Bunnings Warehouse have walked off the job, in protest at the terms of a draft collective contract.

First Union said Bunnings was proposing to chop and change start and finish times for staff across the country, leading those at one branch to strike immediately with others to stop work shortly.

Union Secretary Maxine Gay said workers had a right to consistent and predictable hours, and the proposal went against that.

But Bunnings said any changes would be discussed with the affected worker before they were made, and individual commitments would be taken into account.

It said the collective contract also guaranteed staff a minimum pay rise of 4% this year, and 2% next year. (Source: Radio New Zealand)

John Quessy
IEU General Secretary