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Issue No. 178 16 May 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Shit Sandwich
It took a few well-chosen comments by the sole Howard Government minister with a grasp on reality - or at least a penchant for a bit of takeaway - to blow Peter Costello’s Federal Budget to pieces.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney’s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week’s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.

N E W S

 Costello Whacks Women

 Abbott Picks Fight with Nurses

 Simon Slams Big End

 Hands-Off Howard Loses Seamen

 Safety Net Slips Disabled

 Clerks Put Boot In

 Bank Hold-Ups Expose Compo Failings

 Low Paid Dirty on Lawyer

 WIN Tactics a Big Turn Off

 ABC Jobs On Line

 Della’s Dallying Could Cost Miners

 Ministers of Misinformation Scoop Orwells

 Death Squads Strike

 Currawong Cottages Waiting for You

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

Solidarity
The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.

Postcard
Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

Bosswatch
The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

L E T T E R S
 Ron The Tool
 In Defence of Tom
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Costello Whacks Women


Women, casuals, outworkers and contractors will be big losers in Federal Government’s move to limit unjustified dismissal rights, detailed in this week’s budget.

That was the warning delivered by Professor Ron McCallum of Sydney University’s Law Department in a speech that challenged Australians to “stand up and fight back”.

McCallum said the change, denying state remedies to employees of "corporations", was a cornerstone in Tony Abbott's drive for a single IR system.

He predicted the more restrictive, complex and costly Federal procedures could leave 30 percent of working Australians without any rights to challenge unfair sackings.

"In NSW 60 percent of workers are covered by the state system and three fifths of them are women. This would deny them the right to use the state system to challenge unjustified dismissals," McCallum told Labor Council delegates.

"It will force workers, unions and employers to operate under two system - state for awards and agreements and federal for unfair dismissals. That is bad public policy."

He said the federal unjustified dismissal system was "discriminatory" because it wrote large sections of the workforce out of coverage. Then, he said, it was more legalistic and expensive than its NSW counterpart, limiting the IRC to conciliation and forcing workers into formal Federal Court action if that procedure failed. The NSW jurisdiction, on the other hand, provides for the IRC to make binding decisions.

"The system in NSW is easier and fairer and the biggest impact of these changes will be felt by women. Transport drivers and outworkers, deemed to be employees in NSW, would lose coverage," McCallum said.

He prediced that if the change was voted up in the Senate it would mean the eventual "death" of state IR systems. Robbed of the majority of their work, he said, they would lose funding and eventually relevance.

McCallum urged unionists to lobby Democrat Senators "hoodwinked by the Minister" to reverse their support for the proposal.

In other key budget announcement, Treasurer Peter Costello ...

- confirmed Government would allow general practitioners to levy upfront charges whilst being subsidised by the public purse in changes to Medicare that critics say will wreck the public health. Labor, Greens and the Democrats have pledged Senate resistance, leaving Meg Lees and other indepedents as keys to whether or not the changes are passed into law.

- announced that $404 million in funding to universities would be tied to the introduction of individual Australian Workplace Agreements and that an amendment to the Workplace Relations Act would make industrial action by academics illegal. Huge hikes in student fees were also announced and the policy of allowing full fee paying students to jump better credentialled applicants for popular courses was reconfirmed.

- refused the request of the ABC's Government-appointed board for an "urgently needed" funding boost.

- proposed restrictions on the rights to take protected industrial action of hundreds of thousands of Australians employed in health, education and community services.

- announced another $17 million for the implementation of recommendations from the Cole Royal Commission, taking to $67 million the public spend on the Government campaign against building workers.

- failed to deliver on maternity leave, costed at $200 million a year, whilst delivering tax breaks to Australian-based multinationals worth around $270 million.

- announced personal tax cuts averaging $4 a week, worth less in the words of Cabinet Minster Amanda Vanstone, than a sandwich and a milkshake.


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