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Issue No. 200 24 October 2003  

The Hard Yards
Two hundred issues of Australia’s first and only online workers’ magazine is due reason to celebrate. It is also a good time to look at what we’ve achieved over the past five years and consider where we need to go.


Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!


 Workers Rally For ‘Joel’s Law’

 It’s Official: Courts Weak on Safety

 Cole Insider Highlights "Agenda"

 "Racism" as Pacific Islanders Rorted

 Academics Appeal to International Umpire

 Conroy Crashes Boral Bash

 Poll Points to Hospital Overload

 Aussie Icon Set To Head Overseas

 China Gaols Union Activists

 Victory in Dili

 AWU Rejects Bid to Fleece Shearers

 People’s Bank to Hear From People

 Unions Put Students in Picture

 Memo ALP Members: Think About Unions

 New Face in the Hunter

 Activists Notebook


North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.

 Child Labour
 Advance Australia Where?
 God Save Us All
 US Seeking Aussie Info
 Call The Doctor
 Bring Back Gough
 Bring Back Social Democracy
 Look East, Look West
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Academics Appeal to International Umpire

Frustrated university academics and general staff have referred Federal Government’s harsh workplace laws to the International Labor Organisation as industrial resistance continues.

Seven trade unions covering university staff throughout Australia struck last week as part of an ongoing protest against proposals to tie $404 million in education funding to hard-line industrial requirements.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said that the unions yesterday referred the requirements to the ILO's Committee of Experts as a breach of Article 4 of ILO Convention 98 on freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively.

"The Government's requirements would take away the basic rights of university workers and undermine their wages and conditions," says Burrow.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President Dr Carolyn Allport said that universities and unions should be allowed to get on with the job of enterprise bargaining without interference from the Government.

"Stripping back standards on redundancy, termination and workplace consultation will do nothing to improve the quality of education provided by our universities," says Dr Allport.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Federal Secretary David Carey said that the requirements, on top of declining amounts of funding, would make it more difficult for universities to operate.

"Increased fees and other policy decisions such as making higher education increasingly inaccessible for a growing number of Australian families - especially those on middle to low incomes," says Carey.

Last week's strike, supported by seven higher education unions, was hailed as a success, virtually closing down the entire public university system across the country.

"The success of the strike sends a clear message to the Senate that the vast majority of university staff are opposed to the Government's proposed workplace requirements," says NTEU President Allport.

At least 10,000 general and academic staff, students and members of the public attended rallies and public meetings that were held in all major capital cities to protest the Government's plan.

Only one arrest was reported, a Liberal student who tried to disrupt the rally in Melbourne.

Victory at ANU

At the Australian National University over 800 staff attended a meeting at which Vice Chancellor Ian Chubb signed a three-year enterprise bargaining agreement with the NTEU, which did not incorporate any of the Government's proposed workplace requirements.

"This agreement is a victory for patient, cooperative negotiation between unions and management over the bullying, interventionist tactics being championed by the Federal Government," says Grahame McCulloch, NTEU General Secretary.

"It is a rejection by both ANU management and the NTEU, of the Government's unwarranted and highly prescriptive interference in the internal affairs of universities and the Government's attempts to substitute its own industrial policies for those of universities."

The agreement repudiates the main points of the Government's proposed workplace relations requirements for universities, including:

No provision for AWAs.

Limitations on casual and fixed term employment.

26.4 weeks paid parental leave and a 17.5% salary increase.

A strong recognition of the constructive role played by the NTEU in the life of the institution and union rights more generally.

The Agreement also contains an explicit endorsement of the independence of the University.

"Forcing universities to place staff on AWAs, weakening consultative arrangements and encouraging casual employment, will deliver lower pay and conditions and industrial confrontation," said McCulloch.


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