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Issue No. 203 14 November 2003  

Beyond the Workplace
The NSW union movement’s intervention this week into the debate over the future of public transport is an important step in redefining what unions are all about.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 Hamberger Bad for Kids

 BHP Faces UN Sanction

 Hardie Shareholders Face Death

 Road Workers Swing Left-Right Blows

 Joy Battles Goode at ANZ

 Developers To Kick Transport Can

 ACTU Names Its Price

 Death By A Thousand Cuts

 Ban Holes Water Police Deal

 Cleaners Mop Up Contracts Mess

 Workers Entitlements Dumped

 Overtime Goes Bush

 Libs Push Lawyers Picnic

 Unions Set To Stand Up To Bullies

 Jack Thompson Headlines Launch

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

 Burma Up In Smoke
 Super Solidarity
 Perils Of Pauline
 Put A PM On The Barbie
 Tom Holds Water
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Hamberger Bad for Kids

Employment Advocate Jonathan Hamberger is using a company that went bust last month, denying redundancy to 60 percent of its staff, to sell AWAs to school kids.

Hamberger, whose office promotes the Federal Government’s workplace agenda, struck controversy this week when a teacher blew the whistle on his move to co-opt 2500 schools to the anti-union campaign.

In a letter to every public and private high school in Australia, Hamberger urged teachers to make students aware of his office's youth website which promotes non-union individual agreements.

A feature of the OEA's "youthserve" site is an AWA sales pitch from a Hobart supervisor entitled "Up Close and Personal With Justin Hill".

While Hill admits his job with Antartic Adventure is his first, he advises school leavers that an AWA "takes you one step further than the state or federal award and may contain clauses specific to your individual workplace".

Hill says, "as a young employee", he enjoys an "equal" relationship with management at Antarctic Adventure. He cites "development" as the biggest plus offered by an AWA.

"In our Australian Workplace Agreement, there is a career structure. I have had the opportunity to move up the ranks allowing me to get where I am today."

Workers Online can reveal that where Hill is today is down the road at Hobart's Corus Hotel, working under the terms and conditions of a state award.

When Workers Online rang Antarctic Adventure we were informed the company had gone "bust", closing its doors on October 10, and, under the terms of its AWAs, paid redundancy to only seven of the 19 predominantly young people it had employed.

Hill, the OEA's Australian Workplace Agreements advocate, told Workers Online the reasons for the closure had not been "entirely clear".

"I was one of the lucky ones," he said, "a lot of the others don't have jobs."

When asked what his redundancy terms had been for three years service with the company, he said, "I couldn't actually say".

Nimbin school teacher, Phil Roberts, alerted the public to Hamberger's co-option of the secondary school system, describing the Employment Advocate's letter as a blatant example of the Howard Government agenda "permeating schools".

The letter was sent to 2500 principals across Australia. It touted individual contracts, which have stripped conditions and as much as $10,000 a year off individual workers, as the future for school leavers.

Commentators say it signals Federal Government intention to concentrate their AWA efforts on youngsters who have not experienced union-organised workplaces.

The AWA take-up rate, running at less than five percent across the workforce, is highest amongst those aged 15-21 years where the Employment Advocate claims 17 percent penetration, principally in low-wage industries such as retailing, accommodation, cafes and restaurants.

The Federal Government sold AWAs on the basis of "choice" but Hamberger admits new employees can be forced to accept AWAs as a condition of employment.

In his letter to schools Hamberger wrote: "The OEA (Office of the Employment Advocate) is committed to ensuring that young people and those advising them have access to accurate and easy-to-read information about AWAs."

The letter only promotes AWAs and does not mention the prospect of union-negotiated agreements.

AWAs are opposed by the trade union movement, the Federal Opposition and state governments, including NSW and Victoria.

NSW Education Minister, Andrew Refshauge, told the Sydney Morning Herald, this week, it was "completely inappropriate" for Hamberger to have written directly to school principals promoting them.


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