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Issue No. 264 20 May 2005  

Conviction Politics
In modern politics even ideology has become a matter of convenience; look no further than the principle that ‘third parties’ need to be removed from the workplace.


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.


 BHP Gets Decision to Die For

 Howard Turns to Water

 PM Noses into Pinocchio Territory

 Protest is Child’s Play

 A Baloney Deal Under Fire

 Decapitation Witness Dudded

 Newsroom Bullies Make Headlines

 Nelson Takes Axe To Brains

 Council Unhealthy for Families

 Top End Leader Backs Unions

 A Storm In Every Port

 Greens Go Rights

 Activist’s What’s On!


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

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

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PM Noses into Pinocchio Territory

Forty five former RAAF engineers have caught the Prime Minister out in a bare-faced lie.

US aerospace giant, Boeing, this week used Howard’s laws to stand down Williamstown maintenance engineers pressing for a collective, union-negotiated contract.

The 45, a clear majority of Boeing's 60-strong maintenance workforce, were stood down after the company received written confirmation they wanted to be employed on a collective agreement.

The company's retribution came as the Prime Minister assured a Liberal Party gathering in Brisbane "it will never be the policy of this government to deny people a choice".

AWU secretary, Bill Shorten, said the Williamstown stand-off put the Prime Minister's credibility on the line.

"Unless he comes out and supports the RAAF workers' right to choose, he will be shown to have lied," Shorten said.

"There are thousands of workers, all around Australia, whose right to choose a union agreement is being denied by this federal government and its supporters."

Shorten said Boeing had acted after the engineers imposed a paperwork ban but the whole argument revolved around their rejection of Boeing's individual contract employment model.

"They are professionals who want to continue regular maintenance of the RAAF FA-18 jet fighters they work on," Shorten said. "But Boeing is refusing to let them.

"A clear majority of Williamstown workers have expressed their democratic preference for a union agreement instead of unfair individual contracts. Boeing should respect their freedom of choice and their democratic right to a collective agreement."

The AWU says Boeing's individual contracts were "inferior, unfair, discriminatory and secretive".

It says they pay some workers, up to $2 an hour less than others doing the same alongside them.

Tax Cut Rort

Meanwhile, John Howard's steelworkers are being dudded by his ideological commitment to individual contracts.

Less than a month after the Prime Minister said Treasurer Peter Costello's budget tax cuts were aimed at steelworkers, a group of NSW steelworkers has taken exception to individual contracts that would eliminate the federal government's $6 a week largesse.

A majority of Kurri Kurri workers, employed by Signode Strapping, are opposing individual contracts that would leave them a minimum $7.87 a week worse off than a proposed union agreement.

The union agreement is the same as the company already applies to employees at its Victorian operations.

The AWU's Mark Stoker said the $7.87 differential was a "best case scenario" under individual contracts that leave half the annual wage movement to the company's discretion.

The union agreement also includes income protection insurance not provided in Signode's individual contracts.


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