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Issue No. 253 25 February 2005  

And The Battle Begins
After months of skirmishing and waiting for the first shots to be fired, we finally have a picture of the Howard Government’s agenda to tear down 100 years of industrial relations.


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.


 Signs of the Times

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Andrews Apes Big End

 Telstra Charge Reversed

 Good GEERS Hard to Find

 More Pulp Fiction

 For Sale - Goulburn

 Bosses Admit Pay Too Low

 Yachtie Sinks in Bog

 Albrechtsen Merits Questions

 New Eateries On Menu

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Markets Cheer Pattern Bargains

 Mine Managers in Denial

 No Interest In Costello

 Activist’s What’s On


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.

 Boycott Bunnings
 Just One Thing
 No Dosh For Rupert
 Executions Not Fines
 Howard Needs To Know
 Disability Disgrace
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Signs of the Times

Employees of a Melbourne sign maker are resisting AWAs that ban music, encourage discrimination, and condemn them to long trousers, or full length skirts, even in 40 degree heat.

Six of eight employees at Civiquip, Hoppers Crossing, have joined the AMWU in a bid to knock off AWAs being championed by Prime Minister, John Howard.

AMWU organiser, Fergal Eiffe, says proposed earnings fall between $1 and $9 an hour below enterprise bargaining rates being paid in the region; that 2.5 percent annual increases would see workers fall below the CPI; and that leave loadings appear to have vanished all together.

"This is the trouble with AWAs. They are an opportunity for employers to tear down wages, conditions and basic human rights with the government's blessing," Eiffe said.

"These ones look like they were drafted in the 1800s."

The documents bar radios, computers, mobile phones, slacks, shorts, coarse or blasphemous language from Civiquip's premises, on pain of dismissal, and allow the company to work employees on Victoria's Melbourne Cup public holiday.

They give the thumbs-up to religious discrimination and legitimise employer discrimination, as long as he has less than six fulltime employees.

"Nothing in these provisions prohibits", the AWA reads, "any discriminatory conduct by:

"(A) a person (against another person) if the discrimination is necessary for the first person to comply with the person's genuine religious beliefs or principles.

"(B) an Employer if the Employer employs no more than the equivalent of five people on a fulltime basis ... "

Civiquip AWAs call on workers to sign away rights to union representation.

The AWAs, prepared by IR Australia of Pitt St, Sydney, were handed to employees just prior to Christmas.

That, Eiffe says, goes to the core of what AWAs are all about.

"These people didn't even know IR Australia existed," Eiffe says, "until they found out they were writing their new terms of employment.

"This has got nothing to do with flexibility or bargaining in the workplace. It is about loading the dice in the employer's favour so he can cut living standards and, in this case, impose his own value system on everyone who works for him.

"We respect religious beliefs but living in a society is all about finding a balance."


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