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Issue No. 263 13 May 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

A Fistful of Dollars
And so the great political debate of our time has become who gets the money and how quickly they can pocket it – the Howard Government’s latest application of the base art of wedge politics.

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

 Bikies Needle Heroines

 Bosses Play China Card

 Giant Collapses on Ankle

 NAB Cuts More Than Jobs

 Left Footers Kick Back

 Oh Brother, Tim Plays House

 WA on the Block

 Patrick Fails to Hide Asbestos

 Budget Hits Civil Rights

 Combet Launches Shark Attack

 Childcare Wage Grows Up

 US To Drain More Aussie Brains

 Dictators Beg Eric To Stop

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

Left Footers Kick Back


Australia’s minimum wage must "adequately" reward workers and "meet the needs" of families, according to the Catholic Church.

Bishop Christopher Saunders, chairman of the Catholic Social Justice Council, is urging the faithful to consider the position of more than one and a half million Australians, dependent on the minimum wage.

"At a time when wage protection and other aspects of Australia's industrial Relations system are being question, our attention turns to the needs of almost 1.6 million workers on the minimum wage," Bishop Saunders wrote Catholics in a May 1 pastoral letter.

Bishop Saunders said there were three standards in church teaching, relevant to minimum wage debate sparked by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews.

He said the amounts must ...

- adequately reward working people for their labour

- meet the needs of workers and their families

- must not be allowed to fall below the level of subsistence

Bishop Saunders reminded parishioners that others, including the unemployed and underemployed, also relied on fair minimum payments to protect against poverty.

He said the church had called for a "significant increase" in the minimum wage because, after tax and government benefits, many families still struggled to meet the necessities of life.

"At this time of national prosperity, we should remember the needs of people both in and out of work on the margins of the labour market," Bishop Saunders wrote in a text entitled "The Minimum Wage in an Age of Prosperity and Wealth".

He joined the debate as Andrews and Prime Minister, John Howard, flagged their intention to redesign the minimum wage structure in a bid to hold down increases.

The government wants to take the determination out of the IRC, which hears evidence from affected parties, and move it to a group of hand-picked "experts".

The change would be a victory for its big-business constituency that has aggressively attacked the minimum wage as overly-generous.

Meanwhile, a US minister of religion has set out to answer the century old question - are trade unions instruments of God's will.

The answer, according to Indianapolis-based Darren Cushman Wood, is yes.

Woodman, also a labour studies professor, has just publish a book Blue Collar Jesus: How Christianity Support Workers, Rights' which argues "labour unions are legitimate instruments of God's will for creating a just society".


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