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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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Weight Watchers Raise Scales

Writing to their employer and standing up in meetings to declare their union status has paid off for a hungry bunch of Weight Watchers employees who may finally be on the brink of a collective agreement.

The staunchly anti-union weight loss multinational has changed tack from criticising activists in workplace memos to making an offer heralded as a great start by the LHMU.

According to LHMU state president Jim Lloyd the company has gone from refusing to even meet with the union to this week offering its workers a new deal for the first time recognising their right to be paid for meeting preparation and attending compulsory events.

"Weight Watchers was adverse to dealing with the union in the early stages and they didn't make it easy for the people who became active," Lloyd said.

"They sent out a memo to everyone saying they were disappointed about the fact these guys had formed a group and were agitating. It named people who had become involved.

"But these women remained brave and strong and stuck to their guns. They won the current offer through an extensive campaign of lobbying, legal support, media interviews, meetings with other Weight Watchers leaders and actions at seminars."

The company's proposal introduces access for the first time to sick leave, annual holidays, and other entitlements. It also increases minimum pay for each meeting held from $27 to $44.70 and locks in an annual pay rise according to award movements.

Despite the good inroads that have been made in the bargaining process, Lloyd said he did not expect members to accept the offer and said more was needed.

While the company agreed for the first time to pay its workers for time taken to prepare presentations, it has proposed to do this through a flat $8.94 each week regardless of the number performed and the fact preparation can take several hours.

Commissions, bonuses and an hourly rate of pay also needed to be discussed.

Lloyd said the workers were also waiting for confirmation they would be getting a collective agreement and were writing to their employer requesting it be in the form of an award.

"They've been saying the right things but the union and its members are looking forward a getting a collective agreement."

He said they expected to get an answer within the week.


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