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Issue No. 163 29 November 2002  
E D I T O R I A L

Lessons from History
History has a seemingly infinite capacity to create and debunk myths, as the latest offering from the Journal of Labour and Social History shows.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Trade Secrets
Federal Labor’s trade spokesman Craig Emerson is on a mission to bring the shady world of trade talks into the open

Industrial: It’s About Overtime, Stupid
An overtime free-for-all is at the heart of Australia’s hours explosion and it's time to look at a cap on hours, reports Noel Hester from the ACTU’s Working Hours Summit.

Unions: Full Steam Ahead
After two weeks of rallies around the state, rural Rail Towns are making a stand for jobs and safety. Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: The BBQ Battle Axe
Manly restaurateur, David Diamond, is a shoo-in for this month’s Bad Boss nomination, leaving Workers Online looking for a good employer who can undo some of his damage.

Economics: Different Dimensions of Debt
Professor Frank Stilwell presented the big picture on debt policy at the Evatt Foundation’s Breakfast Seminar

History: Raking the Coals
Labour historians Rae Cooper and Greg Patmore explain why today’s organisers have much to learn from the lessons of the past.

History Special: Wherever the Necessity Exists
Rae Cooper tracks NSW union organising between 1900-1910 to argue that today’s activists should be looking closer to home for inspiration

History Special: Learning from the Past
Ray Markey looks at union membership growth in the 1880s & 1900s to argue that today’s unions must engage to grow.

History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Barbara Webster looks at Rockhampton between 1916 – 1957 to debunk the ‘dependence’ theory of trade union growth.

Politics: Regime Change for Saddam
Labour lawyer Jim Nolan looks at the challenge for the Left in the current geopolitical stand-off in the Middle East.

International: World War
Europe has suddenly come aflame with industrial action, Andrew Casey reports.

Corporate: Industrious Thinking
Neale Towart looks at the influence of German immigration on Australian industry policy in the post-war period.

Review: Jack High
Mick Molloy’s new flick Crackerjack tells the tale of a traditional bowling club struggling to stay afloat in an industry dominated by pokies, pokies and more pokies, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Culture: Duffy’s Song
Former Labor Council official Mark Duffy’s Sydney super band Sundial clocks in a bit of a corker.

Satire: A Nation of Sooks
The Strewth Institute's Tony Moore looks at the spate of defo suits and wonders if Australia has gone soft.

Poetry: Mr Flexibility
One of the key challenges facing unions, as the ACTU celebrates its 75th anniversary, is confronting the problems of increasing working hours and work intensity under the guise of "flexibility". Our resident bard, David Peetz, takes up that theme this week.

N E W S

 And On the Seventh Day – Satan Joins Union

 Security Masks Political Bans

 Members Offered Spotters' Fee

 Casuals Written Out of the Script

 New Mining Bully On the Block

 ACTU Examines The Cap Option On Hours

 No Sweetener for Diabetic Workers

 Pressure Goes on Apartheid Employers

 ASIC Turns Blind Eye on Dodgy Boss

 Family Test Case a Priority Campaign

 Echoes of Prestige Hit Home

 Brutal Bashing Sparks Prison Strike

 Minister Challenged by Cleaners

 ABC Journos Off The Air

 Union Says RSCPA "Kills"...

 Guards Demand Campus Security

 Uni Backs Down On Regional Review

 Peace Returns to US Docks

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Economic Migrants
A man - a worker - risks death by machine gun to escape what he is told is a 'workers' state'. He flees East Berlin through a tunnel, dug beneath a cemetery.

Awards
And the Winner Is …
It’s that time of the year when we honour the best. In the past week, both the IR Writers fraternity and ACTU have got in the act with more to come.

The Locker Room
More Post-Colonial Madness
Phil Doyle joins the fools and Englishmen out in the midday sun, and finds that it all comes at a price.

Bosswatch
Call Waiting
The Howard Government backs off its plans to privatise the rest of Telstra under market pressure. But it’s nothing like the pressure that former HIH directors are under.

Month In Review
Way Down
As Elvis might have said, if he had had a longer-term perspective “ooh, what a month it was, it really was such a month …”

L E T T E R S
 Oh Bugger Me!
 State Based Organising
 Gino on the Gong
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

ACTU Examines The Cap Option On Hours


Capping hours at 48 hours per week in line with European standards is one of the policy initiatives to be examined by unions in the lead up to next year’s ACTU Congress.

This week's ACTU Executive gave the go ahead to look at a number of ideas to rein in the hours explosion.

The draft policy being discussed recognises as part of the process wider considerations than just hours need to be looked at such as ensuring staffing levels are sufficient in each workplace and that there is access to training, to give rise to enough skilled employees to maintain sufficient staffing levels.

It is also recognised base wage rates must be at a level which provide a fair standard of living without a reliance on overtime. And the number of hours each employee works must be consistent with the right to enjoy healthy and safe conditions at work and not subordinated to purely economic considerations.

The draft policy recognises a major policy gap in the existing regulatory framework which lacks any maximum enforceable limits of working hours.

Initiatives to be looked at include similar options to the European directive on Working Time which limits a combination of ordinary and overtime hours to 48 hours per week.

In the ACTU draft this weekly limit may be averaged over a period of up to 12 weeks by negotiation and an employee shall not work in excess of 60 hours per week in consecutive weeks or an average of 54 hours per week over an eight week period.

The ACTU recognises that a policy will only fully be achieved when there has been a significant cultural change away from the long hours culture which exists among some employers and employees in the Australian workplace today. Accordingly activities which help raise the debate about long hours of work and effect cultural change should be continued.

These activities may include:

§ public, industrial and health and safety campaigns

§ employee education;

§ public inquiries into long hours of work; and

§ public events.


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*    See Noel Hester's featrue on the Reasonable Hours Summit

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 163 contents



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