Inside the system

Unionists banned from using the word ‘scab’

Unionists have been banned from calling people scabs at the Carlton United Breweries (CUB) picket line in Melbourne. The Fair Work Commission made a ruling prohibiting unionists from insulting scabs in relation to the Carlton United Breweries dispute. Unions are holding on ongoing picket and protests at the site in response to the mass sacking of 55 fitters and electricians. The workers were asked to reapply for their jobs and take a 65 per cent pay cut.

The ruling explicitly prohibits unionists from using insults including “scab”, “fuckwit” and “rat” at workers crossing the picket line, which has been running since June. The Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union responded to the ruling by erecting a giant two storey inflatable rat outside the brewery. As ETU Secretary Troy Gray explained, “Unions said if we can’t have our placards we need something that represents the culture that we’re dealing with and they came up with this young gentlemen before us, ‘Scabby the Rat’”.

The unions are also running a high profile boycott campaign against beers produced at CUB—including Carlton Draught, Carlton Dry, VB, Crown Lager and Pure Blonde, as well as Mercury and Strongbow ciders.

Apple says $19 billion in unpaid tax is “crap”

Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook has lashed out at an EU decision forcing the multinational to pay a massive tax bill to Ireland. The repayment totals $19 billion and was based on figures provided by Apple itself.

The company struck a secret deal with the Irish government in 1991 giving it a tax rate that dropped from 1 per cent in 2003 to just 0.005 per cent by 2014. Apple then booked all its profits from across Europe to a company registered in Ireland, allowing it to avoid tax for all its sales outside North and South America.

Apple reacted violently to the ruling by the European Competition Commission. Tim Cook declared, “No one did anything wrong here… Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable”. He labelled the ruling, “total political crap.”

The tax repayment is enough to run Ireland’s health system for a year. The company’s response caused outrage on Ireland’s streets. Louise O’Reilly, 57, is a full time carer for her mother who is diabetic and blind. She told the media: “They are doing the wrong thing. They don’t care about the normal people. The money should be spent on the old-age pensioners who worked all their lives and are struggling to survive.”

Nine Vice Chancellors rake in over $1 million

Australia’s university bosses, the Vice Chancellors, are taking home a fortune. Nine of them earned more than $1 million last year. The list was topped by none other than Sydney University’s Michael Spence who recently provoked one of the longest student occupations in the university’s history after attempting to close down Sydney College of the Arts. He had the gall to call the art school an “unnecessary expense” while taking home a salary package worth $1.38 million. His pay has increased by more than 60 per cent since 2010 when he earned $849,000. Spence was followed closely by Australian Catholic University’s VC Greg Craven who took home $1.33 million last year.

Turnbull to unleash more Middle East bombing

Malcom Turnbull has foreshadowed legal changes that will allow the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to bomb more indiscriminately in Iraq and Syria. Until now the ADF has formally been limited to bombing Islamic State combatants, vehicles or targets flying fighting flags. But commanders want to bomb non-combat targets such as factories and depots, and believe that Australian laws currently restrict this. This will increase the chances that civilians will die.

Turnbull told parliament he wanted, “the ADF on the frontline of this fight to have the powers they need”. An ADF official spokeperson admitted, “it means more strikes”. In December 2014 a UN Central Command report detailed an ADF bombing raid on a suspected weapons factory where a woman and child were seen in the targeted area 10 minutes after the bombing.

Comatose Aboriginal man handcuffed to hospital bed

In August corrective services guards handcuffed and shackled Noongar man Nathan Khan to a hospital bed in WA. He was comatose at the time.

Khan collapsed in a court hearing regarding a traffic offence at Midlands magistrates court. He was entering a plea at the time for an offence that carries a sentence of up to 18 months jail. After his sudden collapse Khan was taken to the Midlands health campus. Either in the ambulance or the hospital he choked on his own vomit which cut off his oxygen supply.

The 30-year-old father of two was then placed on life support to a ventilator to assist his breathing and slipped into a coma that lasted for several days.

Despite his extremely serious and utterly incapacitated condition guards insisted on handcuffing his limp body to the hospital bed and fixing shackles to his legs. Khan’s mother Margaret Hansen said, “I just can’t understand it. I said to the guard, ‘How the fucking hell is he supposed to get up and run when he can’t even wake up? He is in a fucking coma and he is tied down like a dog.’”

Top CEOs make $5.5 million each

Average CEO pay among Australia’s top 100 companies hit $5.5 million last year. This is 68 times the average wage.

The bulk of this came in hefty bonuses, with just 7 per cent of CEOs missing out.

Top of the list were the co-chiefs at Westfield, Peter and Steven Lowy, on $24.75 million. Seek’s Andrew Bassett took in $19.39 million, followed by Peter Allen at Scentre Group on $17.86 million and Macquarie’s Nicholas Moore on $16.3 million.

Research and writing by Adam Adelpour
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