I'm pleased to report that the November council meeting passed the "Employment Values" policy resolution that was deferred from the October meeting (nine for, three against). In particular I'd like to thank Councillor Josh Wilson for his active and vocal support of this policy.
In early November I attended the Wesfarmers AGM at the Perth Convention Centre. Yes that Wesfarmers, the one that owns Coles, Bunnings, Officeworks, coal mines and plenty more. Not my usual sort of haunt, but I was there holding proxy votes for members of the Australia Western Sahara Association.
Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until 1975 when Morocco invaded the country before a vote of self-determination could be held. This occupation is not recognised by the UN or international law. Yet Morocco has been aided and abetted by Spain, the USA and particularly France ever since. It's much like the bi-partisan support for the Indonesian occupation of East Timor by our government for nearly twenty-five years.
Most of you will have read that after being knocked back by council, Homewest has applied to the WA Planning Commission for approval to demolish ten houses in Hilton.
While I’m a strong supporter of public housing, Homeswest’s actions are very disappointing. It makes it harder to defend public housing if Homewest refuses to respect the planning guidelines that everybody else who wants to build or renovate in Hilton has to abide by.
A revised Hilton Planning Policy has just been through a period of extensive community debate and will most likely be adopted by council later this year. Growing or maintaining the stock of public housing does not require Homewest to ride over the top of local democracy.
The Maritime Union of Australia West Australian branch supports the adoption of a policy by Fremantle Council which would give to all its workers the rights and conditions they rightly deserve. These include an equal pay structure, the right to be represented by their union and a career path to a permanent position.
Our members enjoy these things and we are proud to say we have secured some of the best employment conditions in the country. But decent working conditions should not just be for workers in a strong bargaining position. It's the responsibility of government, including local government, to look out for the conditions of workers who are in a weak bargaining position but who do important work on behalf of our community.
Fremantle Council is grappling with the rights and conditions of the workers who it expects to implement the city’s projects. I’ve proposed a policy called “Employment Values for the City of Fremantle”. For supporters of workers’ rights, the policy is straightforward and modest.
It seeks to entrench the following principles:
1. Respecting the right of workers to union organisation and representation.
2. Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts and creating a guaranteed path to permanency.
3. Remunerating employees on the basis of equal pay and conditions for work of equal value.
4. Being a leader in “family friendly” leave and other work arrangements.
5. Placing the city in the top third of WA local governments in pay and conditions.
The Council is in the process of reveiwing its Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP). Below is a submission I made to the consultants conducting the review. I don't pretend that this is an exhaustive or perfect list of the things that Fremantle Council could do. Some suggestions might already be in train and certainly there must be many other things that I have not thought about.
If you haven't already made a submission to the City in the course of the public consultation for the new DAIP then please let me know if you have any specific coments or suggestions about how you think we could improve accesss and social inclusion for all people with a disability.
Submission to 2010 DAIP Review
Sam Wainwright (Councillor, Hilton Ward)
The elected council does not involve itself in the day-to-day direction of the council's employees, partcipate in enterprise agreement negotiations or decide who to employ. However I'm sure most people would agree that as an employer its practice should reflect our community's values. In consultation with other councillors I've been working on a general policy to guide the city in its relations with its employees. Below is a draft and I'd welcome your comments:
Resolution on City’s general approach to employee conditions
The September 22 meeting of Council voted unanimously to adopt a new Hilton Local Planning Policy. This is only the first stage of its adoption as it now advertised for public comment for a period of at least 35 days, after which it will return to council for final adoption.
I think the policy strikes a reasonable balance between preserving what people like about Hilton (such as the wide verges with trees and the size and form of buildings) while still allowing people to build or renovate using contemporary materials and design.
Every year the state of the old Woolstores building drifts in and out of the local media. Previous development applications for the site have been approved only for the owner to let them lapse. Yet when the state of the building gets raised, the owner predictably blames the council and its heritage preservation requirements. It’s hard not to conclude that the owner either has no genuine interest in developing the site or is hoping the existing building will deteriorate to the point that council is forced to approve a complete demolition.
It’s not just community services and our public servants that are threatened by the Barnett government’s mad program of cut backs, so too are some really important cultural institutions. Hilton resident and writer Liana Christensen is asking for your help in the battle to keep the Indigo Journal afloat.
Indigo emerged from a group of writers around the Fremantle Arts Centre has given many young and previously unpublished writers a break. Great writers like Amanda Lohrey, Alex Miller and David Malouf have all come through it pages. But just like the organisations who work with people with disabilities or care for the mentally ill, Indigo has to go cap in hand to government for piecemeal funding every year; and this time the government has knocked them back.