Letters to the editor February 13 2018

PRETTY PAINFUL: Bluebottles on Coniston beach by Hannah Maher. Send your pictures to letters@illawarramercury.com.au or post to our Facebook page
PRETTY PAINFUL: Bluebottles on Coniston beach by Hannah Maher. Send your pictures to letters@illawarramercury.com.au or post to our Facebook page


As a former general secretary of The Miners Federation I empathised with ACTU secretary Sally McManus as she struggled on Q&A to get onto the front foot with regard to how Australian workers could achieve much needed wage increases.

Solidarity within organised labour, Sally quite correctly stated, was the key to achieving that goal.  

Unfortunately, that solidarity seems to no longer exist.

Common cause and militancy within the Australian work force, was “sliced and diced” by Hawke, Keating and the ACTU 35 years ago when they conned into accepting “The Accord”.

One union, The Miners Federation, with  a 100% unionised workforce refused to participate in the Accord and was declared to be  “flat Earth troglodytes” by the government and the ACTU.

The leadership of the Miners Federation, myself included, was approached and offered an all expenses paid overseas “study tour” as an inducement convince the membership to become part of the Accord.

The record shows that offer was refused (and, over thirty years on I clearly remember the name of the individual who delivered the offer!). 

In 2018,“The Accord MK2” is being suggested as a possible solution to the problem of wages and productivity stagnation.

Hopefully, there will be many still around to remind workers of the “poisoned chalice “ which was “The Accord MK1”.  

It was the beginning of the end for union solidarity and, of the influence unions once had in workplace negotiations. However not all of the blame can be apportioned to incompetent union bosses.

The rank and file membership in some instances sat mute at the table and allowed union bosses to open the union’s negotiating position with “lets do a deal” irrespective of the outcome.

Trading off hard won conditions for dollars, accepting contract labour over full time work etc etc.  

Is it any wonder union membership is less than 30% of what it was once?

While I admire Sally Mc Manus for her ideals I sincerely doubt the support she requires for success will be there.

Barry Swan, Balgownie


What a great relief it is for hospitality workers, he restaurant and catering industrial have dropped off cutting penalty rates on Sundays for restaurant workers.

It was always perverse that a booming restaurant industry was going on the attack against their workers and the commission got it right cutting pay in that industry has no merit at all.

Matty Ryan, Fairy Meadow


Visiting Australia, I arrived on a Sunday afternoon. 

The next morning I went to Woonona Beach to swim (where I'd swum before).

Near shore I got caught in a strong rip and started heading back to shore but was making no progress and being clouted by big waves.

Getting tired, I called and waved for help  and almost immediately a young man grabs his surfboard seems to head for the water. 

I lost sight of him and then see him arcing towards me through the surf.

Minutes later, with no fuss, I'm on his board and despite being knocked off by surf twice we're soon ashore. 

His name, Joe Nugent.

A timely, brave, skilful and unselfish act, Joe.

I'm extremely grateful as it all could have gone badly  without your help.

You are a credit to your country.

Thanks again Joe.

You are a good man.

Paul (surname withheld), Hong Kong


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