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Issue #1772      April 5, 2017


Nurses working for Sonic Health Plus could see their award-aligned Sunday penalty rates cut from 75% to 50%. They are currently on a non-union approved EBA, in which they receive award Sunday penalty rates. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and other unions opposed the EBA when it was being certified in 2014. In fresh EBA negotiations, Sonic Health Plus proposed the nurses’ penalty rates are cut by at least a third. It seems they have found their inspiration in the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to cut Sunday penalty rates for 700,000 retail, hospitality and pharmacy workers. “Just last month Sonic Healthcare, the parent company of Sonic Health plus, announced a net profit of $197 million and revenue of $2.5 billion. Now it wants to cut the wages of its nursing staff,” said ACTU president Ged Kearney. The ANMF, representing Sonic Health Plus nurses, has rejected the attempts to cut the Sunday penalty rates of any nurses during the negotiations.

The recent coverage of government minister Christopher Pine in Saudi Arabia selling military equipment speaks volumes about the present Australian government and its priorities. And they stink. Saudi Arabia is mercilessly bombing Yemen and prevents humanitarian convoys from reaching the wounded and the dying civilians. What is happening there is a war crime and selling military equipment to that country makes Australia a willing collaborator in those crimes. Was there any public discussion about the sales? Who decided that it was a good idea to militarily support this odious government? It was Saudi Arabia who was behind the spread of fundamentalist jihadi Wahhabism around the world that gave birth to global terrorism. And now we are selling them military equipment because “money does not smell?” It does though – it smells of moral bankruptcy and political stupidity.

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) say low-paid employees at Sydney Airport – baggage handlers, check-in staff, ramp workers, catering staff and cleaners – work in “third world conditions”. Airport company Aerocare rostered them into split morning and late evening shifts. The cost of petrol and tolls for workers travelling home during breaks made it unaffordable for many. So some employees ended up sleeping in their cars or on chairs. Reports about the working conditions at Sydney airport prompted the TWU to start a petition to stop the practice of split shifts in the industry. So far the petition has been signed by 4,317 people.

Next article – Culture & Life – Divide and rule

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