News briefs, 12/11/12


News briefs, 12/11/12

Ai Group letter ‘exposes Conservative agenda’: ALP | Boosting literacy and numeracy skills | Asbestos Awareness Week (26–30 Nov) | National week of action targeting ships at Newcastle Port.


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Ai Group letter ‘exposes Conservative agenda’: ALP | Boosting literacy and numeracy skills | Asbestos Awareness Week (26–30 Nov) | National week of action targeting ships at Newcastle Port.

Ai Group letter ‘exposes Conservative agenda’: ALP
Unions NSW has backed Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten’s protections for state public sector workers affected by outsourcing and privatisation, against complaints from the business lobby, according to the Federal Government.

The protections ensure that public sector workers receive the same wages and conditions if their employment transfers to the private sector.

The Ai Group has described the protections as a ‘lose–lose scenario’.

Unions NSW secretary, Mark Lennon, said Ai Group’s reaction exposed the insecure work agenda being promoted by conservative state governments and employers.

‘Today’s letter of complaint from AIG proves that conservative state governments and the business lobby are pursuing a common agenda — attacking wages and conditions of workers and making their jobs less secure.’

The employer with the New South Wales and Queensland Governments sees the legislation as unnecessary government interference.

Boosting literacy and numeracy skills
Employers, industry representatives and adult literacy and numeracy specialists came together at the annual Australian Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) Practitioners’ Conference in Brisbane recently.

Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills, Sharon Bird, addressed the conference.

‘As workplaces change and the demand for higher skills increases, the challenge is to equip low-skilled workers with the literacy and numeracy skills they need to keep pace,’ Bird said.

‘Integrating literacy and numeracy development in workplace training is an effective way of delivering these skills and benefits both employers and individuals.’

‘This is why the WELL program is such an important part of the Gillard Government’s $15.6 billion investment in skills and training.’

Asbestos Awareness Week (26–30 Nov)
Asbestos Awareness Week, in the last week of November, serves as a reminder of the danger asbestos in Australian workplaces and communities can pose, according to SafeWork SA.

It also provides an opportunity to remember the families affected by asbestos-related diseases, the authority added.

‘Despite the cessation, in Australia, of production of asbestos containing products in 1987, and their banned use since December 2003, these products still exist in and around workplaces and homes built up to the late 1990s,’ the authority said.

From 26 to 30 November 2012, a range of events, activities and information sharing will focus attention on this safety issue which continues to affect workplaces, home renovators and their families. The week concludes on Friday, 30 November, with Asbestos Victims Memorial Day.

National week of action targeting ships at Newcastle Port
Conditions on foreign ships entering Australian waters will be under scrutiny this week as the International Transport Workers’ Federation gears up to board and inspect conditions on ‘Flag of Convenience’ (FOC) ships entering Newcastle Port. 

FOC ships — or ‘Ships of Shame’ — sail without a national flag to avoid being bound by international standards in the treatment of workers and conditions on board. Recently, there has been an unexplained spike in fatalities on FOC ships, according to the federation.

The ITF national coordinator, Dean Summers, said the Week of Action will run from 12 to 16 November and will involve representatives from Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and South Korea.
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