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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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Bunbury Families Win Payouts

Ten Bunbury families are divvying up $22,500 in back pay under equal pay provisions John Howard wants outlawed.

The welders, sea fastening a barge for Global Labour Hire, were being paid flat rates of $24 an hour, at least $8 below going tradesmen's rates.

"Now the guys are getting close to $34 an hour, all purpose, with travel, overtime and site allowances on top," AMWU state secretary, Jock Ferguson, said.

"We insist on equal pay for equal work but the money wasn't the big issue. Safety-wise, the place was sub-standard. There had been no site inductions and there were no emergency procedures."

Ferguson said the workers sat in the shed for half a day until the employer came across on safety issues, and the back pay was a bonus.

The welders had been doing 84 hour weeks, preparing a barge for a trip to Africa.

Global has work on another four or five barges before the contract ends.

The company agreed to safety inductions, tool box meetings, a safety action plan and emergency procedures. Workers elected three health and safety representatives.

"They're hard case some of these employers," Ferguson said. "They spend half their time complaining about a skills shortage and the other half exploiting trades people."

He said John Howard's workplace law changes would have made this week's settlement near impossible.

"It would have been hard to have held a meeting in the first place," he explained. "Howard is trying to keep unions off jobs because he doesn't even want people to learn what they are entitled to."


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