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Issue No. 265 27 May 2005  

Hit and Myth
John Howard came to power on the back of a myth about the sort of Australia we had once been; now he is creating a new myth about the sort of Australia we want to become.


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.


 Sign or You're Gone

 Unions Back a Winner

 Howard Chases Nurses

 Victims Champ Joins Resistance

 Red and Green Blue

 Usual Suspects Lead Cheer Squad

 Ugly Australian On Charges

 Aussies Longer and Harder

 Guard Attached, Then Sacked

 Doh – Homero Loses Voice

 Bunbury Families Win Payouts

 Double Standards For Dads

 Libs Back 'Illegal' Rally

 TAFE Teaches A Lesson On Winning

 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.

 One Hell Of A Job
 US Fan Mail
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Unions Back a Winner

The best tip on Sky Channel last Friday was that workplace rights were worth fighting for, and that unions are fighting to win.

Over 4000 union delegates attending meetings held at over 50 venues across the state were told, via the racing network, that a campaign against Howard’s workplace rights was winnable.

"When Unions NSW asked the general public in January this year if they thought Australia would be a better place without unions, the answer was a resounding 'no'," Unions NSW secretary John Robertson told the meetings. "Ninety-three per cent of the people said Australia would not be a better place without unions." "A campaign to harness this goodwill is winnable provided we play it smart; we are disciplined; and we have the energy and courage to engage directly with the community." John Howard announced in parliament this week a wave of sweeping changes to workplace laws described as "more extreme than anywhere in the world". They include proposals to:

  • Push secret individual contracts in preference to collective agreements
  • Make agreements providing equal pay for equal work illegal
  • Green light unfair dismissals for companies with up to 100 workers
  • Deny millions of Australians access to redundancy payments
  • Strip back awards
  • Eliminate state based systems
  • Deny workers' access to the industrial Relations Commission
  • Introduce secret ballots before strikes
A video screened for delegates used real life workplace examples to show how the changes would strip fundamental rights. Following the meetings many delegates were keen to get copies of the video to take back to their workplaces. "As delegates you will be the decisive players in this campaign," Robertson told them. "We need to confront these changes, but we need to be smart about how we do that." "We need to understand the impact of the new laws and explain how they will undermine our rights at work. "These rights at work are the pillars of our Australian society, lose them and you lose a whole lot more." "What Can You Do? As well as educating the community about the importance of rights at work Unions NSW is calling on all unionists to become a part of the broader campaign, including: Using the information kits available from the special campaign website at Keeping in touch with what's going on through the Community Activists Network, which will keep people informed of key events. Being a part of the July Community month of action, with events planned across the state including
  • A roundtable of religious leaders, to bring people of faith into our campaign
  • Producing materials to highlight the specific effect of the changes on working families, and we are organising events to distribute these at railway stations, schools and child care centres
  • And working with sporting organisations, particularly junior sports, where fewer parents are able to commit time to volunteer and explain to them how these changes will affect them. (If you are active in a sporting or community club let your union know)
Attending the "Last Weekend" - a family protest picnic to be held at Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday August 7. The aim is to actually make it a fun way to make a serious point, with activities for the kids, food stalls and some great entertainment. Each day of the last week of June unions will participating in activities to draw public attention to the proposed changes, each day highlighting a specific right that is being attacked. "The ACTU and Unions NSW, with your unions, are planning a sustained public campaign - backed by a major national TV and radio advertising blitz," says Robertson. "The ads on their own won't win this - it's workplace delegates who will be the key part of this campaign." "Let's get on with it."


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