Wage justice for cleaners: Change the Rules!

It was cold and overcast in Canberra this morning when the Vintage Reds joined with United Voice and other unions to support the cleaners in Australian Government office buildings who are going to suffer a 20% cut in their wages (from $24.00 to $20 an hour). Many are likely to loose their jobs because of this change of contractors and work arrangements.  Just another example of why Australia needs to “Change the Rules” and rid us of our rancid conservative government!


June 2018 Guest Speaker, Melanie Nolan

Our speaker was Melanie Nolan, the general editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). Here is a short version of her talk, including her answers to questions from the floor. [Photo: ANU School of History]

Melanie began with an acknowledgement of country.

The ADB began in 1957, led by Keith Hancock, with the aim of establishing a federal dictionary project. Hancock had a history of involvement with the UK Dictionary of National Biography. The ADB’s first employee was Ann Moyal. Her work duties included driving round in her car, all over Australia organising working parties and drumming up support for the dictionary project. Douglas Pike was appointed as first editor, not Ann, in 1962. In 2006 the dictionary went online, free. It now gets 60 million hits a year. So far there are 13,000 articles. The ANU continues to be a strong supporter. Files not yet online are all available to be consulted at the ANU archives. The current crop of biographies includes people who died between 1991 and 2000; it will be a decade’s work. Once the articles go online, and then taking into account any feedback, they will be published in book form. Continue reading

Don’s Calendar of Events, May 2018

21 to 27 May: Exercise Right Week, exerciseright.com.au.

23 May to 6 June: Palace cinema, German Film Festival

24 May: Paperchain Bookstore, Manuka, 6 pm, Ann McGrath from the ANU launches Alison Booth’s latest novel, A Perfect Marriage – a contemporary tale of friendships, the nature of memory, and middle-class domestic violence. Bookings here.

Sunday 27 May: 8 p.m., Archie Roach and the Tiddas

Monday 28 May: National Gallery, Reconciliation Day events.

Thursday 31 May: 6 pm. China in the World auditorium, Fellows Lane, ANU, a free “meet the author” event, with Jonathan Miler talking about his new book, Duterte Harry: Fire and Fury in the Philippines. Book on 6125-4144 or here.

Continue reading

May Day Dinner awards 2018

This year’s dinner was held at the QT hotel in town. Among the recipients of the expanded May Day awards was Janice Flaherty of the Vintage Reds, shown here with a black and gold T-shirt which must be very soon a collector’s item. Janice was responsible for our recent submission to the government on aged care.

May Day march 2018

For the first time in some years, Canberra unions rallied on May Day, as part of the Change the Rules campaign.

Two hundred people marched to the Fair Work Commission and listened to speakers on the theme of secure work, fair pay, and increasing casualisation.

More Canberra events from Don Dwyer


until Sunday 29 April: Weber’s Circus, corner Isabella Drive & Clive Steel Ave, Monash.

until Sunday 29 April: Heritage Festival.

until Sunday 19 August: National Library, UK Suffragettes Exhibition.

18 April to 6 May: Palace Cinema, Spanish Film Festival.

Thursday 26 April to Sunday 20 May: The Spiegeltent.

Friday 27 April: 12 noon to 5 p.m., Queanbeyan Library Comic Fest. RSVP 6285-6255.

Saturday 28 April: 10 a.m., Workers Memorial Rally. Near the Carillon on the War Memorial side of King’s Avenue bridge.

Monday 30 April: 9.30 a.m., National Library, John Bell in conversation with Genevieve Jacobs in association with the Canberra International Music Festival.

Tuesday 1 May: 12.30, May Day Rally, corner Childers Street & University Avenue, Civic.

Continue reading

What’s happening at Centrelink?

Amy Knox from the CPSU attended the Vintage Reds’ April meeting for a quick update on outsourcing and labour hire at Centrelink, part of the Turnbull government’s reckless privatisation of public service jobs.

Serco has been given a contract to staff Centrelink call centres, with another 1000 staff just announced. This is to address the crisis in unanswered calls to Centrelink (55 million in 2017); but rather than employ more trained, accountable public servants with job security and fair pay and conditions, there are instead casualised staff earning roughly half of what Centrelink staff get for performing the same work.

Amy reminded the meeting that only five years ago all service delivery work was done by employees of the Department of Human Services, and there were no casual employees in the department.

The CPSU is campaigning to scrap the arbitrary staffing level cap put in place by this government, which forces the privatisation of work out to consultants and contractors. This is a fight across the public service and help is needed.

Photo by Amy Knox, CPSU: Vintage Reds line up to fight privatisation of Centrelink.