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Issue No. 201 31 October 2003  

Criminal Logic
It has taken the tragic death of 16-year-old Joel Exner to focus public opinion on laws that allow an employer guilty of killing a worker to get off paying a measly $1800.


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!


 It's Official - Life Worth $1800

 Bank Fesses-Up on Robbery

 Corrigan Straddles Robot

 Striking Guards Beat Chubb

 Killer Company Cuts And Runs

 Call Centre Loses Its Sensis

 Greens Set to Bowl Workers’ Homes

 The RSL With No Beer

 Law Rewritten To Get Workers’ Cash

 Pressures Lead To Truckie Deaths

 Soup Kitchen Signals Bleak Future For TAFE

 Art For Workers Sake

 Carr Sweeps Cleaners Off Their Feet

 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 Labor
 Industrial Manslaughter
 The Miracle Of Tom
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Call Centre Loses Its Sensis

The Telstra veil dropped this week when off-shoot Sensis told staff it was "delighted" it didn’t have to bargain with their representatives in "good faith".

The call centre-advertising operation, employing 2200 Australians, made the extraordinary admission in a bulletin from national employee relations manager, Ray Harris, to all employees.

"I am delighted to advise you that the outcome is a very pleasing one for Sensis," Harris writes of a disputed Federal IRC decision. "The Full Bench of the AIRC found that: There is no duty upon Sensis to bargain 'in good faith' under the Workplace Relations Act."

Sensis runs call centres for Telstra in most states and describes itself as "an integral part" of the telecommunications giant. Its employees handle a range of duties including answering White and Yellow Pages inquiries.

Harris was commenting on a full bench response to a Sensis appeal of an earlier decision by Commissioner Smith that appeared to acknowledge the CPSU's right to a seat at enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Sensis has refused to recognise the union or allow it into negotiations, despite increasing numbers of its employees signing up as members.

CPSU officials say the Harris memo was "typically misleading" and underlines why employees are signing up for union representatation.

While conceding that the AIRC had ruled it did not have the power to force Sensis to "bargain in good faith" they say the Commission has ruled that Sensis must formally recognise the CPSU.

The full bench decision, they argue, was procedural and has handed the substantive argument back to Commissioner Smith for a decision.

The ruling, confirming that there is no "good faith" requirement on parties to bargaining, however, has fired-up ALP Workplace Relations Shadow, Craig Emerson.

"The Howard Government's laws allow large, profitable employers like Sensis to ignore the wishes of their employees to be represented by a union," Emerson said.

"The Full Bench decision notes that federal laws contrast with those of countries like the USA, which contain a clear requirement that employers must bargain in good faith."

Emerson called for immediate law reform in the area and confirmed Labor would introduce a private members bill requiring parties to bargain in good faith.


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