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Issue No. 191 15 August 2003  

Three Year Itch
The triennial ACTU Congress meeting Melbourne this week comes at the most difficult of times for the union movement, as the horror prospect of seven years of conservative government becomes an ongoing reality.


Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month’s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Public Backs Services Over Tax Cuts

 Seafarer Awards – Full Steam Ahead

 Sunnybrand Plucks Workers

 Call Centre Stink Over Time in Loo

 Reynolds Banks on Safety

 Workers To Back League Stars

 Witnesses Line Up for Test Case

 Unfair Legislation Dismissal

 Tax Office "Bites" Its Own

 Bosses Grab Massive Pay Hikes

 IR Staff Walk Over Job Cuts

 Government Kills Manslaughter Bill

 Rail Workers Spitting Mad

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.

 Tom’s Tool
 Neighbourhood Watch
 MUA CD Launch
 The Remittance Man
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Witnesses Line Up for Test Case

Within 24 hours of announcing its Secure Employment Test Case Labor Council, and media organisations, were fielding calls from people eager to give evidence before the IRC.

Teachers and administrative workers from as far away as Victoria left names and phone numbers with NSW Labor Council, volunteering to tell how insecure employment had impacted on them and their families.

Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, was further boosted by emails received at Channel Seven when he debated the issue with Employers First executive director, Gary Brack, on Sunrise.

"Security strikes a chord," Robertson said. "It is a real issue in the community.

"On Sunrise, they were reading emails from viewers which we did nothing to generate. One woman wrote in saying she had worked four years as a casual, without any security, in the hope of being made permanent.

"That's exactly what this Test Case is about."

Workers Online understands that another man has written in, offering to give evidence of being kept on casual terms by one of Australia's most high-profile companies for more than six years.

Buoyed by the public response Labor Council will take its argument for restrictions on employers who keep workers in casual limbo, or use labour hire to defeat security of tenure and entitlements, to state and federal politicians.

Just last week, the Sydney Morning Herald produced data labeled "alarming" by ETU secretary, Bernie Riordan. It quoted studies showing that a quarter of Australians, aged between 20 and 24, were in neither fulltime work nor study, and that this situation applied to 70 percent of Indigenous Australians in that age group.

Riordan called the figures an "indictment" on Government policies and urged Labor Council to add the researchers who produced the studies to its Test Case arsenal.

The Test Case, formally supported by the NUW, PSA, CFMEU and MEU, will argue specific awards should contain a clause, or clauses, that ...

- entitle regular casuals to opt for permanent employment after six months service with the same employer

- entitle labour hire employees to employment with the host employer after six months doing the same job for the same employer

commit employers to full consultation with employees and relevant unions prior to contracting, and to guarantee existing jobs, wages and conditions.

Papers were filed in the NSW IRC last week and the substantive case is expected to be heard next year.


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