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Issue No. 255 11 March 2005  

A Skillful Ruse
If you ever wanted a case study into the adage that big business is all about ‘privatising the profits and socialising the losses’ then look no further than the current skills crisis.


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 Doesn’t Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegas’ 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 – 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


 Killer Company Sent Down

 Once Upon a Time in Bexley

 Defence Contractor at War

 Steeple Takes a Tumble

 Tribunal Goes the Bash

 Nurses On Top

 Uni Rolled on Casuals

 Howard Strips GEERS

 Septics Dump On Aussie Jobs

 Banks Safety Interest

 Feds Should Help Kids

 Safety Stars at Opera House

 Three Dollars Free For Readers

 Toast the Days Of Old

 Clinton Boycotts Hotel

 Activist’s What’s 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.

 The Auld Mug
 Banks Are Great
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Uni Rolled on Casuals

Casual librarians have deleted a management plan that saw 15 of their colleagues lose their jobs and would have seen the rest sacked within a year of beginning work.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission threw the book at University of New South Wales library management, who have been forced to retreat from the policy.

The uni had brought in the new rule to dodge unfair dismissal laws.

The move by library management flared into a dispute with members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) campaigning against the breach of their workplace agreement.

The NTEU labelled the librarians as "courageous" for taking a stand.

The 15 sacked casuals must now be reinstated to their positions in the library.

Legal action by the NTEU secured interim orders from the Commission forcing the policy U-turn.

The NTEU hailed the decision as an "overwhelming endorsement of the consultative provisions of the Enterprise Agreement, and the rights of NTEU members to be involved in workplace change"

"While there remain issues to be resolved, we're pleased that such an outrageous policy has been overturned," says NTEU NSW secretary Chris Game. "The decision serves as a reminder to what awaits Australian workers if the proposals of the Howard government such as removal of unfair dismissal rights for small business employees.

"If a supposedly reputable employer such as UNSW is trying to avoid unfair dismissal legislation imagine the lengths to which some unscrupulous private sector operators in other industries might go."

As well as reinstating the sacked casuals, UNSW must provide information on casual General Staff and their employment policies in the Library to the NTEU.

More Indigenous But Less at Uni

Meanwhile the NTEU has released new research showing that there was been a 15% decline in Indigenous students commencing higher education.

"Since 2000, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participation has begun to widen, despite the fact that the growth in Indigenous population has been almost twice that of the non-Indigenous population and has a much higher density in the age groups most likely to attend university", said Joel Wright, NTEU Indigenous Officer.

The NTEU believes that the provision of an Indigenous specific support scheme is crucial to increasing Indigenous participation and outcomes in higher education.


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