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Issue No. 166 14 February 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

A Call To Arms
Workers Online returns from our summer break to face a world on the brink, the structures of global cooperation being crushed by the iron will of the earth’s last remaining superpower.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Agenda 2003
ACTU secretary Greg Combet looks at the year ahead and how a union movement can keep the focus on the workplace at a time of global crisis.

Peace: The Colour Purple
Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.

Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
As Workers Online took its annual break, the world kept turning – at an increasingly alarming velocity.

Solidarity: Workers Against War
Joann Wypijewski reports on how union locals in the USA are fighting the hounds of war at home.

Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
With all the talk of terror, the Howard Government’s Achilles heel is its tolerance of Flags of Convenience shipping , writes Rowan Cahill

International: Industrial Warfare
Scottish freight train drivers have already acted to disrupt the war effort in the UK with crews of four freight trains carrying war supplies to ports walking off the job, writes Andrew Casey

History: Unions and the Vietnam War
The Vietnam experience steered some unions towards social activism for the first time. Unions are today key players in the anti-war movement, writes Tony Duras.

Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Mark Hebblewhites looks at two summer movies that tap into different sounds of American culture - white boy rap and motown blues.

Poetry: Return To Sender
Resident bard Divd Peetz discovers that Elvis has become the latest shock recruit to the peace cause.

Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
CIA Director George Tenet announced today that the agency has begun recruiting future enemies for the year 2014.

N E W S

 The Cuffe Link – Taxpayers Cough Up

 Carr: Secret Lib Plan to Slash Public Sector

 Abbott Comes Out Swinging

 Thanks a Million: Cole’s Lawyers Clean-up

 Corrigan Dogs On Jobs Promise

 Gnomes Fess Up – Unionism Best For All

 Owens Survives 30-Year Ban

 Ribs and Rumps Something for Government to Chew On

 Badges of Honour

 Guards Rail Against Assaults

 Workers Online Scoops Global Prize

 Currawong Must Pay It’s Way

 Let’s Get Real! 2nd Australasian Organising Conference

 Guard Knocked Out in Villawood Escape

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Getting On with The Job
Premier Bob Carr chose Trades Hall as the venue to launch Labor's IR policy for the upcoming state election.

Postcard
Justice in Bogota
Sydney lawyer Ian Latham knows how to pick them. He’s gone straight from the Cole Royal Commission to justice Colombian-style.

The Locker Room
Heart Of Darkness
There is a school of thought that there is, in fact, only one World Cup - and it doesn’t involve cricket, writes Phil Doyle.

Politics
Danger Mouse
John Howard's politics have trapped him into supporting an unpopular war. He is in political trouble, Leonie Bronstein argues.

L E T T E R S
 Bouquets and Brickbats
 War Talk
 A Tale of Two Malls
 Talk Back Tom
 On The Beach
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Abbott Comes Out Swinging


Federal Industrial Relations Minister Tony Abbott has begun 2003 with a legislative haymaker, attempting to make an employers’ capacity pay the key issue when considering wage rises for the low paid.

The former Oxford boxing blue is also believed to be gearing for a fresh stoush with building unions with legislation being drafted that would give courts the power to remove union officials from office.

The ACTU has condemned Abbott's move to alter the objects of the Federal Workplace Relations Act, claiming it could lead to real wage cuts for one million low-paid workers.

Under the Abbott plan, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission would need to give 'primary' regard to three factors: the needs of the low paid, employers capacity to pay and the impact on employment.

The ACTU believes effect of these changes would be to restrict minimum wage safety net adjustments to only the lowest paid workers in the economy, and not to all those covered by industrial awards.

"If Mr Abbott gets his way, award wage rises for low paid workers will be abolished or reduced to trivial and tokenistic increases," ACTU secretary Greg Combet says.

The ACTU released figure claiming that Abbott and employer groups were deliberately misleading the public by saying a significant number of workers earning more than $50,000 per annum were benefiting from safety net increases.

In fact, only 0.8 per cent of the Australian workforce fell into this category, with 80 per cent of the nations 1.7 million award only employees earning less than $35,000 per annum.

"Abbott is trying to nobble the independent umpire because the Industrial Relations Commission has rejected the Government's flawed arguments against pay rises achieved by the ACTU for low paid workers," Combet says.

One of unions whose members will be hit hardest, the LHMU, plans to enlist State Governments if the Federal Government pushes through the new law.

LHMU Assistant National Secretary Tim Ferrari says he'll ask State Gov4ernments to support state-based wage increases, effectively bypassing the federal system..


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