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Issue No. 251 11 February 2005  

Polar Shifts
And so Workers Online makes our belated return to 2005 - and while we may have the same old familiar faces in Federal Parliament, politically, it�s a whole new ball game.


Economics: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers.

Interview: Bono and Me
ACTU Sharan Burrow lifts the lid on the rock star lifestyle of an international union leader.

Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Rowan Cahill bucks conventional wisdom to argue the eight-hour day began in Sydney.

Economics: OEC-Who?
The OECD calls for more reform. But, Asks Neale Towart, who is really doing the calling?

Technology: From Widgets to Digits
How can unions grow and continue to successfully represent workers when their traditional structures are rooted in an industry, craft or fixed location?

Education: Dumb and Dumber
Unions are leading the fight against a political agenda that does away with smart jobs.

Health: No Place for the Young
The support of union members is required to help get young people out of nursing homes, writes Mark Robinson

History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
February 17 marks 30-years to the day that sacked coal miners at the NSW Northern District Nymboida Colliery began their historic work-in at the mine.

Review: Dare to Win
The history of the militant and often controversial BLF is as surprising as it is fascinating writes Tim Brunero.

Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
With another change at the helm of the Labor Party, our resident bard, David Peetz, can't help but dreamily drawing on some political history.


 Plastic Man Crosses the Line

 Taskforce Loses "Payback" Evidence

 Court Out � Again

 Blue Chips Fried in CBD

 Bosses Duck Decapitation

 Computer Driven Posties

 Stalking Horses in Safety Stampede

 Low Blow in Ferry Blue

 Howard "Unbalanced"

 Picketers Chase Millions

 Whistleblower Beats Bullies

 Mateship Shines Through

 Queensland Marks Power Grab

 Vale Laurie Aarons 1917-2005


Titanic Forces
There are book reviewers who have not read the book they have just reviewed and there are critics who have criticised films they have not yet seen. I want to review a novel that has not yet been written.

The Soapbox
Labour and Labor
Grant Bellchamber looks at the relationship between both sides organised labour

Aussie Unions Help Tsunami Victims
The union movement�s aid agency reports back on its relief effort in Asia.

The Locker Room
Game, Set and Yawn
Phil Doyle asks if tennis is evil or just boring

The Westie Wing
As a reshuffle of the State Ministry settles in and the Federal Government throws down the gauntlet, 2005 promises to be a new and vital chapter in the struggle for workers and their families, writes Ian West in Macquarie Street.

 Nelson's Double Standard
 Morals Beat Hasty Retreat
 Uncounted Cost Of Asbestos
 Voting Farce Expands
 I Beg To Differ
 Politics Smolitics
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Howard "Unbalanced"

John Howard is breaching international law in a bid to drive unions out of workplaces, according the NSW Government.

Submissions by the state government and the ACTU both highlight breaches of international labour law contained in a right of entry bill, introduced to Parliament in December.

The Bill, introduced by Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews, applies restrictions recommended by the Cole Commission for building industry workers, to employees across the spectrum.

It over-rides state right of entry laws for employers that are corporations; restricts entry for recruitment purposes; applies a new "fit and proper person" test to trade unionists; expands the grounds for revoking permits; obliges worker representatives to meet employer requests on the location of interviews and discussions; and requires them to obtain written requests from named AWA workers to enter a workplace to investigate AWA breaches.

The NSW Government says the proposed law is "unbalanced" and appears to have been drafted to curtail the ability of unions to organise collectively, while increasing the rights of employers.

Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, says the Andrews Bill is an attempt to foist "ill-advised and unworkable" legislation on the states.

The ACTU says the Bill will have three major effects ...

- preventing unions from effectively representing members in collective bargaining

- limiting their capacity to ensure employers abide by agreement

- preventing recruitment and effective representation of members

Meanwhile, the Office of the Employment Advocate, funded by the federal government to promote individual, non-union agreements, is proposing doing away with overtime payments and minimum working hours.

It has published a radical AWA template for small business that includes provisions for "voluntary" overtime to be paid at ordinary rates, and the removal of minimum guaranteed hours for casuals.

The template is published on the OEA's website on the basis that employers can use it to replace awards or negotiated agreements.

Under laws, introduced by the Howard Government, new starters offered an AWA do not have the right to opt for a collective agreement. Even a person best qualified for a job can be legally rejected if they refuse to sign the terms of an employer-drafted AWA.

Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said the latest Employment Advocate proposal was an attack on the living standards of Australian families.

"That's what this is all about," Robertson said, "reducing earnings and job security, particularly of the most vulnerable."


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