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Issue No. 266 03 June 2005  

An Act of Faith
After a week of watching the Howard Government attempt to explain their vision of work relations we have a clearer picture of what the social safety net will be in the future � an act of faith


Interview: The Baby Drought
Social ethicist Leslie Cannold has delved into why women - and men - are having fewer children. And it all comes back to the workplace.

Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
David Peetz uncovers the truth behind the latest statistics on earnings under Australian Workplace Agreements.

Workplace: The Invisible Parents
Current government policies about work and family do not reflect the realities of either family life or the modern workplace. writes Don Edgar.

History: Bruce�s Big Blunder
The Big Fella, Jack Lang, gives an eyewitness account of the last time Conservatives tried to dismantle Australia�s industrial relations system.

Politics: All God's Children
The battle for morality is not confined to Australian polittics. Michael Walzer writes on the American perspective

Economics: Spun Out
The business groups are feeling cocky. The feds have announced their IR changes, business says they don't go far enough. What a surprise, writes Neale Towart

International: Shakey Trials
Lyndy McIntyre argues the New Zealnd IR experiment provides warnings - and hope - for the Australian union movement.

Legal: Civil Distrubance
Tom Roberts argues that there is more at stake than an attack on building workers in the looming legsilation.

Review: Crash Course In Racism
Paul Haggis flick Crash suggests that when cars collide the extent of people's prejudices are revealed sans the usual veil of political correctness, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: You're Fired
New laws will leave bosses holding the whip and workers with a Raw Hide, writes resident bard David Peetz


 Beattie Dares Job Vandals

 Broken Hill Confronts "Choice"

 BHP Faces Losses

 Howard Threatens Babies

 Working Between the Flags

 Hadgkiss Makes History

 Bob The Organiser

 Johnny Packs Toothbrush

 Security Blunders to the Max

 EDI Court Out

 Feds: Do As I Say �

 Soaring Mercury Sparks Walk Off

 Unions Offer to Play Libs

 Education Stands Up To Howard Assault

 Dodgy Bosses Get a Tick

 Weight Watchers Raise Scales

 Hyundai Showdown a Riot

 Activists' What's On!


The Locker Room
Ashes to Dust
In which Phil Doyle travels to distant lands in search of a meat pie, and prepares for the joys of sleep deprivation

The Westie Wing
Ian West lists the Top Ten reasons why workers in NSW can gain some solace from having the Labor Party sitting on the Treasury benches�

The Soapbox
Dear John
In response to this year�s Federal Budget, Bishop Kevin Manning wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard

 Patriot Doug
 Remembering Workers In Cairns
 Bad Law
 Fair Go For Injured Workers
 A Question Of Choice
 Galahs Up The Cross
 National Solution
 Bomber�s Classic
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Broken Hill Confronts "Choice"

Broken Hill disability workers say that they will lose their houses and cars, and have to leave town if they are forced onto AWAs.

"We just want to give our kids a safe environment and stability and many of us here are going to lose it," says local disability care worker Mary-Ellen Crimp. "Many of the staff here are young, with young families. We�re all getting a lesson."

Proprietor Wayne Nicholas threatened 30 employees of Silver Lea Care and Respite with the sack before Christmas if they didn't sign AWA's that would have reduced conditions and removed penalty and weekend rates.

A Federal Court ruling ordered Nicholas to reinstate the workers and restore their earnings.

The service re-emerged as Summit, with the same workforce and Nicholas calling the shots, but without guaranteed hours that delivered income security.

The new arrangements cost Broken Hill workers around $200 a week.

"He's thumbed his nose at the Federal Court and walked away from agreements," says Simon Williams from the Australian Services Union.

But Crimp and her colleagues are standing firm against the use of AWAs and any attempt to undermine their conditions, concerned it will affect the standard of service they provide to the disabled and their families.

"A lot of our staff are really concerned," says Crimp. "It takes a certain kind of person to do this work

"You can imagine how the clients families were feeling."

The AWAs are offering different hourly rates of pay for people doing the same work with the same experience. Some of the rates vary by as much as three dollars an hour.

"We're worried about the conflict this would cause within staff. We fear it is going to set worker against worker."

Crimp was offered a deal that would have seen her give up overnight, weekend, on call and active nights rates, in exchange for a twenty cent an hour pay rise.

"My husband and I would have had to leave town,' says Crimp. "A majority, many young families, would have lost homes and cars."

Employees are calling for the service to restore their conditions in line with the directions of the Federal Court.


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