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Issue No. 262 06 May 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Rights and Wrongs
Something unseasonal and hitherto untoward has been occurring up at Macquarie Street in recent weeks, a flurry of legislative activity around workers rights.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

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: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called “ Make Poverty History”.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.

N E W S

 Harmer FACS Families

 Brats Drive Bus Row

 Harsh Reality – Bella Turns Pink

 Rev Kev Blesses Bosses

 Workers Online Legit

 Howard Rides Kiwi Model

 Della Opts for Gaol

 Feds in the Dock

 Carr Race to Bottom

 Bosses Walk on Water

 Govt Gets Claws into Nurses

 Ion Faces Legal Probe

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.

L E T T E R S
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News

Harmer FACS Families


The federal agency staging National Families Week is trying to rip family-friendly conditions away from thousands of its own employees.

Management at the Family and Community Services Department (FaCS) wants staff to cop cuts in personal, bereavement, carers and paternity leave while they push the official line about "recognising the importance of families and their valuable contribution to society".

FACS unveiled its new agenda, which also involves increasing working hours and cutting time-in-lieu arrangements, during certified agreement negotiations with the CPSU.

The CPSU's, Lisa Newman, said the irony would "hilarious if it wasn't so serious".

FACS secretary, Dr Jeff Harmer, describes the department's core business as assisting "families and children in having choices and opportunities".

Dr Harmer has urged employees to take a lead in National Families Week by "writing a story, drawing or painting a picture, taking a photo or making something creative that demonstrates what family is all about".

Judging by the initial response from CPSU members to his bargaining stance, he might receive some very graphic illustrations of what they think Harmer's ideal family might get up to.

One employee suggested good conditions at FaCS had become an embarrassment to a government urging private employers to clawback wages and conditions.

"Staff were told by the CA management negotiating team that our Minister was embarrassed in front of her colleagues by FACS being seen to have such good working conditions. Interesting to see that good working conditions for staff are now considered an embarrassment," she wrote.

Other immediate responses published on the CPSU website included ...

"I think given the management agenda that they should change the name of the Department to perhaps 'The dysfunctional Family'."

"It is hard enough to work full time without FaCS attempting to cut our entitlements. As a single mother if any of my leave/carers leave was cut then I would be forced to quit my job and be on the pension at taxpayers expense. Is this how they see family growth?"

National Families Week will run from May 15 to May 21.


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