|Issue No 106||10 August 2001|
Howard’s Secret Anti-Worker Plans
A Federal Government plan this week in a leaked Cabinet document could force wage cuts on more than one million employees working in small businesses across Australia.
Federal Small Business Minister Ian Macfarlane has confirmed the accuracy of the reported plan to remove basic democratic rights and protections for small business employees. Last night Mr Macfarlane said: "The industrial relations stuff is basically in the ballpark of what we have considered."
The Cabinet document includes proposals to force small business employees onto sub-standard, individual contracts that are not approved by the Industrial Relations Commission and are outside the Award system.
"John Howard is desperate to kiss and make-up with small business after the punishment of the GST. This plan represents a further winding back of the basic rights, wages and conditions of working people," ACTU President Sharan Burrow says.
"It comes on the same day that the Auditor General reported massively expensive abuse of politicians entitlements costing taxpayers $354 million a year.
"Small business employees are already working record amounts of unpaid overtime and suffering under record levels of casualisation. This plan will further erode the number of full-time jobs and add to the blow-out in casual work that is cutting into the job security of so many people.
"The Government is setting up small business operators so they can legally avoid paying workers entitlements such as holiday, sick pay and long service leave."
The extent of the likely wage cuts is indicated by the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data showing union members on average earn 17.5% more - or $109 a week - more than non-union members. Union members are generally covered by collective agreements, not the Government's individual contracts.
The Government's own experts admit in the leaked document that the plan to stop union representatives from visiting small businesses could be "inconsistent with Australia's obligations" under international labour rights conventions.
Interview: In Exile
Burmese's government in exile's Minister for Justice U Thein Oo talks about a struggle for democracy that has become a test of international solidarity.
Politics: A National Disgrace
Labor's IR spokesman Arch Bevis gives his take on the workers entitlements issue and its mismanagement by the Howard Government.
E-Change: 2.2 The Information Organisation
Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel look at how network technologies will change the way organizations operate in the Information Age.
Media: The Fine Print
Mark Hebblewhite looks at how the major dailies handled the Tri-Star dispute and finds that the story really does depend on the telling.
Human Rights: A People Besieged
Labor MLC Janelle Saffin, an active supporter of the pro-Democracy movement in Burma, sets out the issues behind the ILO sanctions.
International: Postcard From Brazil
The CFMEU’s Phil Davey reports on a rural movement that puts our National Farmers Federation to shame.
History: Indonesia Calling
They needed no resolutions. Soldiers and workers who did not know one another moved together, the black ban started to reach out across the harbour from the noisy, smoke-filled room.
Solidarity: On the Frontline
Australian trade unionists are providing practical help for the Burmese through projects funded by APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad.
Satire: Skase 'Too Ill' to Fly Home for Burial
Spanish authorities have deemed Christopher Skase too ill to return to Australia for his own funeral.
Review: Living Silence
In these extracts from her new book, Christina Fink goes inside Burma to find a world where military repression is slowly crushing a people.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005