In order to locate the relevant literature for review, my search began at the University of Western Sydney Nepean's Westmead library. The main data bases used here were Medline and CINAHL, both of which are on CD ROM. Other data bases accessed at other libraries, including the New South Wales State Library, were Acel, Health Reference, Nursing and Allied Health, Osh Rom, Worksafe, and Business Australia IREL (Industrial Relations).
Although I did not manage to uncover as much material as I initially anticipated, it is possible that, to date, relatively little has been written about AIDS and the Trade Unions, in which case this investigative report may open the way for further studies to be done in this area.
Thirteen documents were eventually located for review. The first twelve of these, the years of publication which range from 1985 to 1994, will be presented in chronological order. The thirteenth document, although published in 1989, did not come to hand until the final draft of the review had been completed. For this reason it seemed appropriate to consider it as a late addition'. AIDS, NURSES AND TRADE UNIONS (1985)
In March 1985, The Lamp, the official journal of the New South Wales Nurses' Association (NSWNA), published an article entitled "AIDS, nurses and trade unions" written by Bronwyn Ridgway, then the Assistant General Secretary of the Association. Ridgway's article, which was written in the early days of the AIDS epidemic in Australia, was an attempt to deal with the sense of panic and hysteria which had been generated nationally and internationally by the onset of an epidemic about which (relatively) so little was known at that time.
The article addresses such issues as the potential implications of AIDS for health workers, health education, and AIDS and discrimination. It also lists, in a form which might quite appropriately be described as a part of the process of policy development, certain recommendations, prepared initially by the ADB and subsequently endorsed by the Council of the New South Wales Nurses' Association for submission to the National Advisory Council on AIDS (NACAIDS) in response to a call from that body for government sponsored community education programs on AIDS. These recommendations relate to such diverse issues as the adoption of formal precautions to be followed when providing care to AIDS patients, concerns about the inadequacy of present anti-body screening tests, opposition to the proposed establishment of a National AIDS Register, and condemnation of hysterical and sensationalised journalism. In so far as the latter issue is concerned, the following Somerville cartoon which was included in the article (and is reproduced here with verbal permission) speaks volumes!
When assessing this article it was necessary to bear in mind that 1985 was "early days" in Australia's exposure to the AIDS epidemic and that nurses would probably be amongst the first workers to be affected, within the workplace, by that epidemic. Thus, it could be argued that the approach taken by Ridgway and the New South Wales Nurses' Association could fairly be described as rational and informative and characterised by level headed and educated debate.
Ridgeway's article appears to have been one of the earliest written in Australia about AIDS and trade unions. As such, it would have to be described as a seminal piece of work for which the New South Wales Nurses' Association is to be heartily commended. There is no doubt that the article would have been of considerable assistance to any other organisation, especially a trade union, attempting to formulate policies to deal with AIDS-related occupational health and safety issues. AIDS - RISKS AND RIGHTS (1985)
The second article, "AIDS: Risks and rights", was written by David Lowe, who at that time was a member of the Public Service Association of New South Wales, the main public service union in that state. The article was published in the New South Wales Nurses' Association journal, The Lamp, in August 1985.
Lowe, in the initial part of the article, identifies what are described as five broad categories of trade union movement response to the advent in Australia of AIDS. These broad categories are as follows:
(1) The development of safe working practices for people who face the risk, no matter how minor or theoretical that risk may be, of an occupational exposure to the AIDS virus.
(2) Specific to the health industry, there has been the implementation of policies and procedures that have due regard to both workers' rights and patients' rights.
(3) The provision of well researched, clear and accurate information on AIDS for all union members.
(4) The development of anti discriminatory policies to protect members of unions who fall into AIDS high risk categories; and
(5) In contrast to the other responses, an unfortunate, ill informed, hysterical reaction.
Lowe discusses seminars held and journals published to educate workers about the AIDS epidemic, and also discusses how trade unions might formulate, publish and implement AIDS-related workplace policies. In addition, Lowe analyses progress to date in relation to antibody testing, and discusses the fact that the population at large was still very ignorant about AIDS and, as a consequence, very fearful about the possible implications of the disease.
Particular issues of concern, such as the different responses of prison officers in the New South Wales and South Australian prison systems are detailed. Because prison officers in New South Wales had had some AIDS-related education and, on the initiative of their union, had developed safe working practices for the handling of anti-body positive prisoners, their response was one of little or no reaction, whereas the same requirement, when it arose in South Australia, led to the imposition of work bans.
Lowe also suggests that the initiative of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, on behalf of health care workers under their auspices, in negotiating a health and safety agreement on AIDS could well be followed in New South Wales. In fact, the principal elements of the proposed agreement, which of themselves form a virtual policy statement, subsequently provided a widely used framework within which many other unions developed their own work-related AIDS policies.
Lowe concludes with the observation that although a great deal of work had been done by many unions to ensure that the health and safety of their workers and, in the case of the health industry, that of their patients, was protected, a great deal of work remained to be done to ensure that the progressive direction of union policies in the area of AIDS in the workplace was further developed and consolidated. APSA POLICY STATEMENTS ON CHILD CARE, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, AIDS (1986)
At a Federal Council meeting held on 11-13 February 1986, policy documents prepared by the Australian Public Service Association (APSA) on child care, sexual harassment and AIDS were endorsed. These documents were subsequently printed in the April 1986 issue of the Association's journal, APSA Review. That relating to AIDS takes up only half a page and begins with scientific and medical information, specifically about how AIDS is, and is not, transmitted. Readers are informed that the ACTU VTHC Occupational Health and Safety Unit Bulletin No. 45, (June 1985), not only provides more detailed information, but will be provided to members on request. Reference is also made to the fact that AIDS is not a "gay" disease and that the union will provide any members who believe they are being discriminated against in this context with the full protection and support of the APSA/ACTU anti-discrimination policy. The article concludes with information about occupational exposure, and stresses the importance of publicising the union's AIDS policy. AIDS: A TRADE UNION ISSUE (1988)
"AIDS: A trade union issue" is a chapter, authored by H. Robertson, contained in a book entitled Social aspects of AIDS edited by Peter Aggleton and Hilary Homans and published by Falmer Press in 1988. This chapter was one of the first items I found when starting my literature search and although the study is one which refers to trade unions in the United Kingdom, its contents have relevance for trade unions in Australia.
One of the main aims the author identified in his introduction is to show that the trade union movement could play a greater role in tackling the issues raised by HIV infection and AIDS than it has done to date. Robertson, whose chapter is based on a study of two different types of trade union (one "blue-collar" and the other "white-collar") discusses a range of relevant issues including health and safety at work, National Health Service resource provision, as well as the different styles of response which each of the two unions studied revealed in relation not only to their past and current policies but also in relation to future planning.
A possible limitation in so far as Robertson's findings are concerned is that his research deals with people who were in employment and members of trade unions at a time when the trade union movement was losing large numbers of members due to unemployment and the establishment of increasing numbers of non unionised workplaces. Thus, the messages contained in Robertson's article must be seen as limited to those who are members of trade unions. However, the author acknowledges that, at least at the time of writing, trade unions in the United Kingdom were still a major social force, with in excess of ten million members and negotiating rights in most major industries and services.
Robertson's article proved to be very useful in providing me with a foundation for my investigation, in that it laid out, very clearly, the policy areas which most needed to be focused on by the unions and their members as they seek to develop and implement effective AIDS-related policies in the workplace. As the author states: Although this chapter has concentrated almost exclusively on what the trade union bureaucracy has or has not done, it is in the work- place that issues related to AIDS are, in the last analysis, tackled. The bureaucracy is important, because it has a vital role in formulating policy and disseminating information and it has been these processes that have been most focussed on in this chapter, but it is in local trade union branches that the real work will be done. (Robertson, 1988, p. 152)
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Robertson's study was that it was conducted and reported at a time when the media were sensationalising AIDS issues and many of the people who were diagnosed as having the disease were being subjected to outrageous discrimination. There can be little doubt that writings such as those of Robertson have helped put the issue of AIDS in the workplace firmly and constructively in perspective. Now, almost eight years after its publication, Robertson's writings still have relevance for the workplaces of today. NACAIDS INFORMATION UPDATE (1988)
In January 1988, a two-page question-and-answer document was published as an AIDS information update by the National Advisory Committee on AIDS. The document contains a foreword by the then Federal Minister for Community Services and Health, Dr Neal Blewett who states, inter alia, that AIDS is one of the greatest single health risks to confront this nation.
The question of particular relevance for this investigative study is, "What roles can Trade Unions or Professional Associations play?" The answer provided is as follows:
The ACTU has published a detailed paper on occupational health and safety matters and HIV infection covering a number of different occupations. Some unions have organised special education programs for their members. As time passes, more and more unions and professional associations are educating their members to ensure that the work environment is safe for all while harassment and dis- crimination are prevented. (p. 2)
Thus, the educational role of all trade unions in relation to HIV/AIDS infection in the workplace is identified quite explicitly in this document. AIDS - A TIME TO CARE, A TIME TO ACT (1988)
This booklet was published in 1988 by the Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health as a policy discussion paper. In a letter accompanying the booklet, the First Assistant Secretary of the Health Advancement Division states that the paper is the first step in the development of a national AIDS strategy. As such, it does not make recommendations nor does it commit governments to particular policies or actions. Rather its aims are to canvass the issues raised by the epidemic, to encourage informed debate and to promote a uniform national response.
Two pages of the booklet are devoted to discussions about the union role in the epidemic and are included in a section entitled "HIV infection and the workplace". The need is expressed for employers and unions together to address the changing conditions brought about by HIV by means of policies designed to prevent the transmission of the infection in the workplace. Under the sub-heading "Trade Union Policy", the ACTU's HIV/AIDS policy, adopted in February 1988, is quoted in full. In the next section, under the sub heading "Employer Policy" it is made clear that constructive liaison with staff associations and unions will greatly improve the chances of widespread worker acceptance of HIV/AIDS related policies. It is advised that these organisations should be formally consulted, and given the opportunity to contribute to and endorse the resulting policies.
It would appear that this booklet may have made a valuable contribution to the discourses on HIV/AIDS taking place at the time of its publication, but the question as to who consulted with whom in order to achieve satisfactory outcomes in the workplace seems to remain unanswered. Did the unions consult with employers? Did the employers consult with unions? Union policies on HIV/AIDS in the workplace certainly eventuated from about 1987 onwards, but from the investigations relating to policy formulation within the FMWU, consultation in the wider sense of the word does not seem to have taken place. AUSTRALIAN TEACHERS' FEDERATION HIV/AIDS POLICY STATEMENT (1990)
The South Australian Teachers' Journal of 31 January 1990 carried a brief report of the Australian Teachers' Federation Conference which had been held in Darwin a short time previously. A section under the heading "HIV/AIDS Policy" stated that a comprehensive and progressive policy on HIV/AIDS was approved for adoption at the conference.
Two of the specific issues which the policy addressed were identified by Joliffe, the author of the report, as being:
(1) "The need for teacher unions to promote the concept that concerns about HIV/AIDS are health matters and it is the behaviour of individuals in all sections of society that constitute the risk of transmission, not their membership of a particular group" and;
(2) "The great importance of teacher unions setting up HIV/AIDS reference/support/advocacy groups within union structures with the object of them being available to assist members" (Joliffe, 1990 p. 11)
The final sentence of the report contains a key challenge which, in spite of the claimed unique position of the teachers' union, could probably be accepted and responded to by many other unions representing workers in service industries: "As teacher unionists are in a unique position to contribute positively and effectively to HIV/AIDS education, it (South Australian Institute of Teachers [SAIT]) must do so as a matter of high priority" (p. 11). BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AUSTRALIAN HIV/AIDS PUBLICATIONS (1991)
Brian Howe, the then Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, in his foreword to this bibliography compiled by Edith Monger, stated that he had great pleasure in providing a foreword to the publication because he believed that it would become a valued reference for policy makers, researchers, community leaders, and all who were interested in the Australian response to HIV/AIDS.
The bibliography itself is divided into six sections:Section 1 - Virology and immunology
The part of the bibliography which has particular relevance for this investigative study is that contained under the heading, " Policy - workplace" (pp. 89 - 93). Some of the items listed have been located and reviewed in this chapter. These items are marked with an asterisk (*). A number of others have not yet been located and, for this reason, have not been included in this review.
The most apparently relevant publications are as follows:
Australian Bank Employees' Union. (1989). AIDS policy. Carlton South, Victoria: Australian Bank Employees' Union.
Australian Council of Trade Unions and Victorian Trades Hall Council Joint Unit. (1989). ACTU health industry unions discussion paper on AIDS. Carlton South, Victoria: ACTU/VTHC.
* Tillett, G. (1989). AIDS and the workplace: A practical approach. North Ryde, NSW: CCH Australia.
* Australian Council of Trade Unions and Victorian Trades Hall Council Joint Unit. (1988). ACTU National policy on AIDS. Carlton South, Victoria: ACTU/VTHC.
Walker, J. (1988). AIDS and personnel policy: A union view. In Living with AIDS - towards the year 2000: Report of the Third National Conference on AIDS, 4-6 August, 1988, Hobart, Tasmania (pp. 393-396). Department of Community Services and Health: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Australian Trade Union Training Authority. (1987). TUTA Seminar on AIDS, Sydney, 27-28 May, 1987. Sydney: Australian Trade Union Training Authority.
Bigbee, P.D. (1987). Collecting and handling evidence infected with human disease causing organisms. Victoria Police Association Newsletter, 2, (10), 24-29.
Dwyer, M. (1987). Occupational health and safety: AIDS risk in law enforcement. Australian Federal Police Association Newsletter, No. 2, 1987, 4, 9.
New South Wales Teacher' Federation. (1987). AIDS kit. Sydney: New South Wales Teachers' Federation.
* Australian Public Service Association. (1986). APSA policies on child care, sexual harassment, AIDS. [Collection of policy statements]. APSA Review, 32, (2), 13, 15, 17, 19.
* Australian Council of Trade Unions and Victorian Trades Hall Council Joint Unit. (1985). Information paper on AIDS. Carlton South, Victoria: ACTU/VTHC. [Health and safety at work bulletin No. 45].
* Lowe, D. (1985). AIDS - risks and rights. The Lamp, 42 (6), 26-28.
Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees' Union of Australia. (1985). AIDS: Facts for plumbers. Carlton South, Victoria: Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees' Union of Australia.
Cook, R. (1984). State Secretary's report on 1984 Annual Conference of the Health and Research Employees' Association of Australia. Health Standards, 36 (4), 6-7, 10-14.
It is to be hoped that this bibliography will be updated from time to time because, in spite of now being somewhat behind the times', it is still an invaluable source for people seeking Australian AIDS information. PREJUDICE, PRACTICE, PREDICTIONS: REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS - THE HIV/AIDS 1991 NATIONAL NURSES' CONFERENCE (1991)
This report, written by Beaumont and Robinson, resulted from a conference held in Melbourne from 19 22 March 1991. HIV/AIDS related issues are discussed under the following headings: General Overview, Education, Stress Management, Research, Practice, and Legal and actions required under each of these are explored with recommendations being made for the carrying out of these actions.
The recommendations made as an outcome of the conference indicate, without equivocation, that at least one of the unions whose workplace responsibilities are most affected by the epidemic are well aware of the need for continuing evaluation of the impact of the disease in all its manifestations. Such a stance would seem to auger well for the future education of nurses with respect to HIV/AIDS. DISCRIMINATION - THE OTHER EPIDEMIC (1992)
Discrimination - the other epidemic is a report which resulted from an inquiry into HIV and AIDS related discrimination carried out by the NSW Anti Discrimination Board. The introductory section of the report contains a particularly poignant statement: "It is the tragic irony of HIV and AIDS that while people discriminate, the virus does not" (p. i).
The report is very comprehensive and investigates all aspects and areas of discrimination. One of its many sections relates to employment. Salient points made within this section include the following:
The NSW Labor Council has noted that it continues to receive AIDS policies from employers which require a worker to disclose their HIV status to their employer, and which make no distinction between HIV and AIDS. The Labor Council notes that unions oppose involuntary disclosure, and would not recommend that workers disclose this information to an employer even on a voluntary basis in all but exceptional circumstances.' (p. 25)
At the end of the section various recommendations are made and timeframes for their implementation set. Of these, Recommendation 25 and its timeframe could be seen as having particular relevance for the trade union movement:
HIV-related advice and information should be provided as soon as guidelines are prepared (through consultation with ACON and the Anti Discrimination Board) to their members by trade unions, professional associations and related bodies, and the recommendations of this report adopted as policy.
Time: Within six months of the NSW Government's acceptance of this report. (p. 27)
The Government's response to the Anti-Discrimination Board's report was to commission an in depth review of HIV/AIDS related policies within NSW. This was carried out by a Ministerial Review HIV/AIDS Legal Working Party; its report is the next document considered in this literature review. THE COURAGE OF OUR CONVICTIONS - HIV/AIDS: THE NATIONAL STRATEGY AND THE LAWS OF NEW SOUTH WALES (1993)
The terms of reference for this report were:
To advise and report to the NSW Minister for Health and other relevant Ministers in relation to:1. The current state of NSW legislation in relation to the recommendations of the IGCA Legal Working Party Report;
Many of the recommendations in the report relate to workplace situations. One relevant recommendation concerns unfair dismissal, and the power to award compensation as an alternative to reinstatement for unfair dismissal, with this power to be conferred on industrial relations tribunals in jurisdictions where this power does not already exist. A particular case cited was one heard by the Full Industrial Court in Woolstar Pty Ltd v. Federated Storemen and Packers of Australia, NSW Branch (1992) 45 IR 39, that Chapter 3, Part 8 of the Act constitutes a code for dealing with unfair dismissal. In other words these specific provisions operate to the exclusion of any general power of the Commission to deal with an unfair dismissal as an industrial matter. The practical effect of the Woolstar case is that non award employees have no access to the Commission in relation to alleged unfair dismissals (p. 85).
The report went on to state that ... it should be noted that a person dismissed or threatened with dismissal who is not covered by an award or agreement is able to make a complaint with the NSW Anti Discrimination Board under the Anti Discrimination Act or with the Human Rights Commission under the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (p. 85).
Other recommendations in the report relating to industrial matters include a number relating to the Department of Corrective Services and focus on such issues as the attitudes of prison officers to HIV/AIDS, the provision of condoms to inmates of the prison system in New South Wales, and compulsory HIV testing for all prisoners. It is worth noting here that no inquiry, including this one, which has looked into the issue of compulsory HIV testing in prisons has ever supported its introduction. Recommendations are also made in relation to the occupational health and safety of health care workers including the prevention of such incidents as needle stick injuries.
The report is a very comprehensive document, but it is my understanding that very few of the recommendations made were actually incorporated into legislation. Consequently, the main recourse individuals have who experience HIV/AIDS related discrimination in the workplace is to either the Anti Discrimination Board or the Disability Discrimination Board or the Human Rights Commission. STATELY UNION (1994)
This short article, written by Phil Cohen, a freelance journalist, was published in the Nursing Times in March 1994. The article describes the amalgamation of three United Kingdom unions, the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), the National Association of Local Government Employees' Organisation (NALGO), and the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) to become UNISON (the Public Service Union) which, with a membership of 1.4 million was not only the largest union in the Trades Union Council (TUC) - the United Kingdom equivalent of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) - but also the largest union in Europe.
Cohen informs his readers that UNISON is expanding and extending its current network of Specialist Advisory Groups (SAGs) to more fully reflect the scope of expertise within the membership. There will now be 16 SAGs including those covering HIV/AIDS, care of older people, children, learning dis- abilities, forensic psychiatry, nurse education, adult general nursing, trauma, midwifery and nurse management (p. 43).
While the article contains no further information of interest within the context of AIDS and the trade unions, the concept of Specialist Advisory Groups has obvious potential significance for the members of large amalgamated unions in Australia. AIDS AND THE WORKPLACE: A PRACTICAL APPROACH (1989)
This most comprehensive text, written by Tillett in 1989, covers most of the issues and concerns which have provided bases for the development of most AIDS related workplace policies. Topics explored in some detail by Tillett include the following: facts about AIDS; AIDS as a community issue; AIDS in the workplace - an overview; management's role and responsibility; employment issues; occupational health and safety; confidentiality; discrimination; and workplace education.
Tillett makes three specific references to the role of trade unions. The first reference is a relatively general one relating to the education of members of trade unions and the role of the ACTU, in co-operation with member unions, in developing and publishing detailed AIDS policies and procedures. Union mediation procedures between members and employers are also discussed within this context. The second reference is centred on a discussion about the need for employer participation in planning AIDS education programs, and the third explores the role trade unions can play in offering help to organisations in the development of AIDS related workplace policies. This section also examines the consultative role unions can play in mediating grievances which may occur between members because a worker is perceived as posing a risk of HIV infection to others in the workplace.
The book is sub titled "a practical approach", and this is a most appropriate descriptor. Not only does the text itself provide much useful practical information, but Tillett also draws the reader's attention to relevant industrial and union information available from other sources such as the ACTU's Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin on AIDS (No. 45). In addition, the final chapter (entitled Further Information) includes suggestions for further reading, resources for education, and contact information.
As it is now over seven years since Tillett's book was first published, it would, I believe, be very helpful if an updated edition could be issued, as this book is a most useful HIV/AIDS related reference for employers, personnel managers, health and safety officers, trade unions and legal practitioners. From my own personal point of view, I regret not having accessed this book earlier in my studies; it would have proved invaluable for gaining an informed insight into workplace related aspects of the AIDS epidemic.2.3 QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED BY THIS STUDY
As indicated in Chapter 1, the aim of my investigation is to chart the policy approaches of the Australian trade union movement to AIDS in the workplace since the advent of the epidemic in Australia some fifteen years ago. This aim is to be achieved by focusing on the approaches adopted by one particular union, the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union.
On the basis of the literature reviewed above, I have formulated the following questions to be answered as a result of my investigation:
(1) Does the documentation on file provide evidence that the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union acted responsibly in formulating and promulgating its policy responses to the developing AIDS crisis?
(2) Is there evidence on file to indicate that Union leadership made every reasonable effort to provide its rank and file members with appropriate information, education, advice and guidance in such matters as AIDS prevention in the workplace and HIV/AIDS based workplace discrimination?
(3) Is there any evidence on file to suggest that rank and file Union members (a) influenced, directly, the formulation of Union policies, and (b) responded appropriately in their day-to-day work practices.
(4) Is there any evidence on file to suggest the presence of homophobia or AIDS phobia in either the Union's policies or the recorded responses of Union members to those policies?
Before outlining the methodological approach used in this investigation, it is necessary to have some appreciation of the characteristics of the Union selected for detailed consideration. For this reason, the next chapter (Chapter 3) provides a relatively brief historical overview of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union.
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