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Issue No. 254 04 March 2005  

Thatís Our Team
Hereís a test. Hands up all those who watched the news last night. Who can remember the weather forecast for tomorrow? What about the forecast in Perth?


Interview: Dot.Com
Evan Thornley was a labour activist. Then he rode the tech wave. Now he's home with new ideas on how Labor can win the economic debate.

Workplace: Dirt Cheap
In her new book, Elizabeth Wynhausen learns how hard it is to live on the minimum wage.

Industrial: Daddy Doesnít Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegasí tells the story of the loss her young family has felt since her husband was killed at work, and the need for justice for families who fall victim to industrial manslaughter.

Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
Big Business's agenda for Australia has gone from loopy to mainstream at the speed of light, writes Neale Towart

International: From the Wreckage
Working people across Iraq are struggling to build their own independent unions Ė and are successfully organising industrial action on the vital oil fields as well as in hotels, transport outlets and factories, Writes Andrew Casey

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Meat and Three Veg
A new book recounts the impact of the Depression on women workers, writes Neale Towart,

Savings: 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, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Federal shadow treasurer Wayne Swan unveils Labor's new economic doctrine.

Poetry: To Know Somebody
This week saw an appointment to the ABC Board that was even more breathtaking than that of Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger. Resident Bard David Peetz celebrates the occasion with a reworking of an old Bee Gees hit.

Review: Off the Rails
A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell


 Rev Kev: Innocent Shall Be Guilty

 Itís Official - Taskforce "Hopeless"

 Hollywood For Tropfest Evictees

 Miner Problem for Feds

 Students Driven to Sleep

 Brogden Dances On Graves

 Let Them Drink Beer

 Traffic Fines Parked

 The Airline That Flew a Kite

 Hundreds Resist Porridge

 Experts Back Better Childcare Pay

 Mushroom Mums Win

 Rotten Fruit Exposed

 Workers Sue Rumsfeld

 Activistís Whatís On


The Soapbox
The Big Picture
Think about this: It takes 150 tonnes of iron ore to buy a plasma TV, writes Doug Cameron.

The Locker Room
Reducto Ad Absurdo
Phil Doyle offers advice for the lovelorn, and finds that things are getting smaller

New Matilda
Work is In
The rise and fall of the working hours debate in france is relevent to Australian workers, writes Daniel Donahoo and Tim Martyn

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP surveys the upcoming conservative centralist collective attack.

Postcard from Harvard
Australian union officials making the annual pilgrimage to the Harvard Trade Union Program learnt that, at least, they are not alone, says Natalie Bradbury.

 Stay Terra Firma on Tax
 Janetís Job No Victory
 Royal Finger Lickers
 Will $20 Restore Carr?
 Two Ideas
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Miner Problem for Feds

Mining giant, Newcrest, has lost its bid to use a federal AWA to deny an employee the right to union representation in a decision that points to a constitutional showdown over IR.

Orange miner, Brett Tamatea, is a member of the CFMEU but Newcrest refuses to discuss disciplinary action with his union, despite a clause in Tamateaís AWA that says he can be represented by "... another person at any time during the fair treatment procedure".

Newcrest contended the NSW Industrial Relations Commission had no right to hear Tamatea's objection to a final written warning because federal terms over-rode state law.

But in a frontal challenge to Howard Government plans to swallow up state jurisdictions, the full bench of NSW IR Court rejected the company's notice of motion, after hearing arguments about the limitations of corporations power in the constitution.

In legal terms, the full bench of the IR Court is a "court of superior record", giving its judgements Supreme Court weight.

It considered CFMEU and NSW Government submissions that there were finite constitutional limits on how far the Commonwealth could go in using corporations powers to undermine state laws.

The federal government has flagged its intention to use the same corporations law to remove protections from millions of Australians whose terms and conditions are state registered.

States, including NSW and Queensland, have already flagged the possibility of a High Court challenge to a hostile federal takeover.

In rejecting Newcrest's submission, the IR Court found ...

- federal laws governing AWAs did not prevent the NSW IRC exercising conciliation powers, or issuing recommendations and directions

- federal AWAs cannot affect the rights of unions to notify matters to the NSW IRC and to pursue those matters on behalf of members

- Mr Tamatea's AWA did not preclude his union from separately initiating action in NSW

- that the CFMEU is entitled to have the dispute heard

The substantive case, about how far a federal AWA can wind back workers' rights, has been set down for conciliation.

CFMEU president, Tony Maher, said Newcrest's position exposed the "lie" behind AWAs.

"It shows up all the rhetoric about the right to choose and freedom of choice," Maher said. "Newcrest has demonstrated that AWAs are not about that at all.

"This case is about their argument that, under an AWA, an individual has no right to choose union representation."


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