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Issue No. 206 05 December 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

A New Mark for Labor
Few of us who care about the future of the labour movement would not admit to a surge of hope and sense of excitement following the election of Mark Latham to the federal parliamentary leadership.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Muscling Up
Laborís Craig Emerson discusses how the changes to his partyís leadership will impact on the industrial relations agenda.

Unions: Thinking Pink
Whatís the difference between a Nursing Home and an Aged Care Facility? More than semantics, according to nurses worried Australia is woefully unprepared for the crash at the end of the baby-boom cycle, writes Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Global Bully
If nothing else, US-based call centre giant TeleTech is consistent. After being nosed out of last yearís Bad Boss gong it is back, bigger and badder than ever in its search for Tony honours.

Unions: National Focus
In this national round up by Noel Hester, Hugh McKay tells us how the young are sticking together in a bewildered society, the gongs get handed out at the ACTU awards and there is a chance to win as a worthy wordsmith.

Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
On New Years Day as you look at the wine stains and tread on a soggy puddle on the carpet, will you look for the phone and call a cleaner? Gabrielle Meagher gives a few ethical dilemmas to confront before you make that call.

History: Young Blood
Youth is no barrier to political leadership, as the 37-year-old John Watson proved 100 years ago, writes Neale Towart.

Industrial: Living For Work?
Mark Hearn reports from a recent conference addressing the dilemma of work, citizenship and community.

International: Fighting Together
The international trade union movement is launching a Global Unions HIV/AIDS campaign to combat the spread of the virus.

Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Is the Government's new health plan a plus for Medicare? Asks resident bard David Peetz

Review: Human Racing
Seabiscuit is a great horse movie but more than that it serves as a powerful metaphor for the importance of living for the future while maintaining passion and compassion in the present, writes Tara de Boehmler.

N E W S

 Peeking Dicks in Pickle

 Lights Out on Cheap Labour

 Blackout Hangs Over Sydney

 Contractors Hang Up on Telstra

 Uni Workers Too Smart For Minister

 Employer Bullies Vie For ĎTonyí

 South Coast Deal to Build Movement

 TeleTech Safety Rep Vows to Fight On

 Corporates Urged to Come Clean

 MP Too Busy For Teachers

 Bosses Block Good Shops Code

 Engineers Ground Safety System

 Workers Win At Safety Meet

 Merger Threats

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Dear John
In his 500th piece of activist journalism, long-term Workers Online contributor Rowan Cahill sends a personal message to our prime Minister.

The Locker Room
Retired Hurt
Every innings comes to an end, some too soon, and others not soon enough, writes Phil Doyle.

Politics
Wedge Watch
Labor's Craig Emerson puts the spotlight on the Howard Government's politics of division.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Workers Friend Ian West MLC is back with his monthly round-up from Macquarie Street.

L E T T E R S
 Feds Ignore Building Deaths
 Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
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News

Lights Out on Cheap Labour


Electrical workers have pulled the fuse on bosses across NSW who use cheap labour to undermine wages and condition.

In a landmark decision, the IRC full bench has rejected an employer bid to strike down a clause in the ETUís building industry pattern agreement that binds sub-contractors to wages and conditions in the principal agreement.

"It's a huge decision," Electrical Trades Union secretary, Bernie Riordan said. "It strikes at the heart of bringing third parties onto the job. In future, labour costs will be the same, you won't be able to contract out just to undercut negotiated wages and conditions.

"Effectively, it removes labour costs from the contracting equation."

The full bench ruling sets a precedent across the economy, enabling unions to bind any employer whose agreement is registered in NSW to pass on negotiated rates to contractor or labour hire employees.

It is a slap in the face for former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, who maintained such agreements were unlawful because they breached competition policy.

The NSW IRC found that binding third parties was an industrial matter under the Workplace Relations Act and, as such, could be included in registered enterprise agreements.

In its decision, it accepted the core union view that such mechanisms protected members by ensuring a level playing field so that " the cost of labour was not used by any company as a commercial advantage".

The Commission also green-lighted the ETU's contentious claim for the right to insert a bargaining fee in the agreement, ruling, it also, was an industrial matter.

The decision is expected to give a major boost to NSW Labor Council's Secure Employment Test case, which will be heard in the same jurisdiction next year.


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