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Issue No. 212 12 March 2004  

Unfriendly Fire
The decision by Rail Corp to invoke Peter Reith’s hardline industrial laws against NSW rail maintenance workers could cause more casualties than intended.


Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.


 Bring It On Costa

 Dodgy Tests Cost Drivers

 Peeking Dicks Roasted

 Serial Killer Cops Fine

 Printers Defy Age

 Actors Bucket "Crap" Deal

 Burrow Lashes Independents

 Perth Loses Ugly Fight

 Ambos Bans -Free Rides

 Millions Rung Up on Telstra

 AWU Publishing Coup

 Deliveries Scratched

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city

 Bring Back Gough
 Seven Good Reasons To Save Medicare
 Naked Leading The Blind
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Millions Rung Up on Telstra

Nearly 2000 Telstra employees will divvy up $1.8 million after the corporate giant’s bid to put back wage increases was knocked over in the Industrial Relations Commission.

The CPSU won orders in the IRC requiring Telstra to meet the terms of five enterprise agreements, applying predominantly to Telstra Shop employees, that had been in dispute.

Telstra hired the services of anti-union law firm, Freehills, to try to push back dates at which negotiated pay increments would apply to workers around Australia.

The CPSU estimates an "average" member covered by one of the five agreements would benefit by an extra $30 a week for both the fourth and fifth increase set out in the agreements.

AWA employees are not covered by any of the collective agreements and will not benefit from the decisions.

Sir Humphreys Wriggle

Meanwhile, "Sir Humphrey Appleby" has been cited by an HR industry journal, in describing attempts by departmental heads to argue new employees aren't forced to accept non-union AWAs.

The Coalition Government has always argued "freedom of choice" in defending efforts to undercut traditional, collective agreements, although it specifically provides employers with the right to force new employees onto AWAs.

HR Report told of the ducking and diving of Department of Employment and Workplace Relations officials when it came to explaining their own policies to a Senate Inquiry.

Agency secretary, Dr Peter Boxall, said official policy gave employees and prospective employees the choice between an AWA and the collective agreement. Then, one of his officials, said it would "not be inconsistent" with that for agency heads to offer jobs on the basis of signing an AWA.

General manager corporate, Craig Symon, then told senators 49 graduates, offered jobs on the basis that they must "sign and return the AWA offer, or contact the Group Manager" if they wanted to negotiate it further, would have received other correspondence indicating the availability of the certified agreement. He was unable to enlighten senators on where that choice might have been presented.

Symon went on to describe an "internal manager's update" stating all engagements should be conditional on accepting an AWA as an "error".

Perhaps, DEWR workplace relations implementation group manager, Barbara Bennett, best summed up the department's attitude to freedom of choice when she told senators agency heads were responsible for managing direct relationships with employees and, as such, they could offer a job requiring an AWA.

"They can choose not to take the employment," she said.

Those answers, HR Report told industry players, "would have done Yes Minister's Sir Humphrey Appleby proud".


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