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Issue No. 205 28 November 2003  

Australia Deserves Better
You only have to scan through recent issues of Workers Online to see why the leadership of the ALP is so important – not to the political insiders who judge the beauty contest that is federal politics, but to the millions of workers who are affected by its output.


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.


 Labour Hire Boosts Tech Wreck

 Call Centre Throws Safety Out the Door

 Miners Tackle Million Dollar Sidestep

 Bouquets for Bosses

 Mandarins Nail Carpenters

 BHP Burrow-ed By UN

 ACT Rejects Manslaughter Bullying

 No Joy for Fat Exec Packages

 WorkCover Walks Away From Racetrack

 Contractors Scramble Foxtel Signal

 Safety Derails Train Talks

 Sydney Uni Strikes At Feds

 Workers Up For Safety Awards

 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.

 Mad Monk’s Medicare Minus
 A Tale Of Three Cities
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Sydney Uni Strikes At Feds

Strike action will shut down Sydney Uni on Wednesday as staff set their sights on a new pay agreement.

The action comes as pressure grows on the Federal Government to abandon plans to hold university funding hostage to radical workplace reforms. Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has insisted that universities offer Australian Workplace Agreements to staff.

"This strike has a lot of support says Mike Thompson, president of the Sydney University Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). "Our boss is using the federal Government as an excuse to hide and run away."

"The Nelson agenda is a full on ideological attack. We want to keep higher education accessible to all."

Sydney University management was set to sign off on a new agreement months ago but reneged at the eleventh hour, leaving university staff "frustrated" by the intransigence at Australia's oldest tertiary institution.

Thomson thanked other unionists for their support of previous actions by the NTEU and asked for unionists to support Wednesday's action.

The Labor Council is supporting the action by the NTEU.

Call For Senators To Reject "Radical" Reforms

Meanwhile the NTEU has stepped up pressure on cross bench senators, calling upon them to reject the Nelson reforms.

A package agreed on by the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee and Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson maintains the radical industrial relations component.

"The Government wants to tell universities how they should employ their staff and on what conditions," says NTEU National President Dr Carolyn Allport. "This is in direct contravention of the institutional autonomy of universities and continues to be the strongest example of excessive Government interference. AWAs do not give choice to staff, they undermine their core employment conditions. The only reason for insisting on AWAs is to offer salaries and conditions below existing standards in our collective agreements"

"The Independent Senators should reject these measures and support the inclusion of institutional autonomy and academic freedom as core objects of any new Act".

The NTEU says that the package should also be rejected because it fails to provide sustainable funding for universities in the future.

Dr Allport called for further amendments to prevent HECS fee increases and to remove the contentious student learning entitlement.

"I have been encouraged by the level of interest that the Independent Senators have on these matters and urge them to have further discussions next week with all stakeholders in the sector before making any final decisions," says Dr Allport.


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