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Issue No. 259 15 April 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Roosting Chooks
It wasnít that long ago that John Howard was the great Conservative leader who wanted to remake Australia in his own image, defending the monarchy, beating up gay mums and attacking the ABC.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: [email protected]
Labor's Penny Wong has the job of getting more people into the workplace and keeping companies honest. In her spare time ....

Unions: State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Jim Marr unpacks the unlikely claim of a suburban house to be considered the New Mecca of the New Right Ö

Legal: Leg Before Picket
Chris White looks at how the federal industrial changes will impact on the basic right to strike.

Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Neale Towart asks why the only form of legitmate welfare seems to be going to the top end of town.

Health: Cannabis Controversy
Zoe Reynolds looks at how drug and alcohol testing is leading to some addled outcomes.

Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
As the indicators head south, Frank Stilwell wonders whether it is the way we do economics that is to blame.

History: Politics In The Pubs
Phil Doyle reports on the increasingly-popular Struggles, Scabs and Schooners day out.

Review: Three Bob's Worth
Doing their best Margaret and David, Tara de Boehmler and Tim Brunero have different takes on the new Australian flick Three Dollars.

Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
Workers Online bard David Peetz teaches how workers to dance to Howard's industrial laws.

N E W S

 Freedom From Choice

 Hostile Takeover - Can Howard Do It?

 Premier Sues Miners

 Vanstone Shows Brickieís Cleavage

 Sparkies Refine Safety Tactics

 Ten Cent Deal Cuts Beards

 Kiwis Vote for Flight

 Death Penalty No Deterrent

 Costa Railroads Jobs

 Greystanes Soiled

 Aussies in Ivy league Battle

 Drivers Shake the Cage

 Employers Come Clean

 Big Call in Newcastle

 Bosses Back Gaol for Cowboys

 Activistís Whatís On

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Notes From a Laneway
Mental Health Workers Alliance member Toby Raeburn shares a week on the frontline.

The Locker Room
War, Plus The Shooting
The Socceroos arenít their own worst enemy after all, or so says Phil Doyle

Culture
Life Imitates Art
The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes the secret passage out of Macquarie Street to deliver his take on NSW Parliamentary Committees and other goings on.

L E T T E R S
 Adler Should Be Hung
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Big Call in Newcastle


Three months after taking the union option 20 Hunter Valley workers are celebrating wage increases of up to $250 a week.

Casual sheet metal worker, Greg Wannan, rang the AMWU Newcastle office to check out how workmates at Collex could improve their families' living standards.

The 10 originals, employed on maintenance at the Eraring Power Station, all joined the union and used the casual conversion clause in the Metal Trades Award as leverage to get wage increases of between $100 and $250 a week.

"Having that clause was an important lever in our argument," AMWU organiser, Daniel Wallace, said. "Some of these people had been casuals for over seven years.

"Collex were pretty reasonable, once their responsibilities were pointed out."

The campaign started with off-site meetings and finished with three months of negotiations that delivered an EBA.

Key gains included hourly rate movements of between 14 and 23 percent; uncapped redundancy at 2.6 weeks per year of service; a range of allowances, including $1.50 per hour for everyone at Eraring; and transfers to fulltime terms.

Wallace said one of the most pleasing outcomes was evidence that improved wages and conditions, helped the employer.

"When we started this process, Collex had 10 trades people and now they have 20 and plan to take on at least another five," he said.

"It's been win-win, all round."

With union support, Collex has adopted training and safety procedures that open up asbestos removal for which it pays workers an additional $2 an hour, on top of a 25 percent off-site loading.

Wallace said Wannan, a 22-year AMWU member, had been the catalyst for the improvements.


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