Time for an end to ‘wage restraint’

Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard talk a lot about working families. But when Qantas workers, university workers or teachers ask for wage increases to match inflation, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard reply by going on about the need for wage restraint. However, the Budget papers revealed just how much wages have already been restrained while the profits at the top end of town have been growing spectacularly over the past few years.

The Budget papers forecast that the wages share of national income will fall to just 46.9 per cent this year-the lowest level in recorded history! They predict that by next year, this will fall further to just 43.1 per cent. At the end of the Labor government in the 70s, labour’s share was around 56 per cent.

According to a Latrobe university study, a grand total of $69.7 billion will be transferred away from working families to profits over the next year. Suddenly a 5 per cent a year wage increase seems the least that we should be demanding and the best way for workers to really fight inflation.

Ian Rintoul, Ipswich

Rudd refuses to move Palestine motion

At long last, we have received a reply to our appeal for a Palestine Motion from the Prime Minister’s office. The answer in a nutshell is that the Australian Government does not consider that the Parliamentary motion “would contribute to the peace process currently underway between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

We believe that the letter we received did not address our concerns and that we were, therefore, entitled to request the Prime Minister to reconsider on the indisputable facts presented of Israel’s violations, which are not only contrary to international law and human rights conventions, but clearly detrimental to the peace process itself.

For those who have not followed the developments leading to the above situation, please go to our webpage http://1948.com.au/2008events/national-events.html for a brief overview and then click on the links “Improper Motion needs Proper Action” and “Palestine Motion” to see how the two campaigns have unfolded since March 2008.

We particularly wish to thank every person who has supported the appeal for a Palestine motion and who has contributed to our newspaper ad campaigns. We could not have done it without the generous support of so many wonderful Australians who can see the injustices that Palestinians continually must suffer to bolster Israel’s shaky credibility as its immoral deeds become evermore visible and indefensible.

Australia’s Palestine advocacy and support groups will continue to provide a voice for Palestine at every opportunity until a just peace is finally negotiated and accepted by the Palestinian people under occupation as well as the millions of refugees who for 60 years have been denied their right to go home.

Sonja Karkar, Women for Palestine, Melbourne

Jobs, services threatened by ‘Melbourne model’

The University of Melbourne Arts department is going through yet another round of destabilisation where both academic and administrative workers are being asked to put in nominations for voluntary redundancies.

But this is not only happening in Arts. Every faculty and division that covers IT and the library has been asked to cut their spending drastically.

In reality the kind of services offered by the university has narrowed horribly. It used to teach, for free, advanced Excel and Word use, as well as a whole host of other IT skills necessary for PhD completion. The centre that used to provide these services was abolished.

Lab time has decreased in the sciences, and it is reported that the type of coverage in the University’s model “new gen” degrees are being taught at a very basic level.

In the Arts faculty a recently circulated draft proposal asked support staff who believed their position did not need to be replaced, or could be replaced by a more junior employee, to apply for a voluntary redundancy.

Last week University management gave the NTEU their plan to “improve” the Melbourne Experience further. They are proposing an “Administrative Improvement Plan” to get rid of “duplication” and “improve flexibility”. The union understands this code to mean further cuts and increased workloads.

Last year Creative arts and gender studies students, with the support of other staff and students, held successful protests against the model. These protests must continue.

Melanie Lazarow, NTEU, University of Melbourne (edited for length)

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