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Issue No. 267 10 June 2005  

Rivers of Gold
The latest catchphrase from the econmentariat seems to be ‘infrastructure’ – which I think refers to what we used to know as ‘public works’.


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


 Feds Wrong on Minimum Wage

 Dogs in Sheep’s Clothing

 Andrews Faces Probe

 NSW Packs IR Scrum

 China Syndrome

 Pirates Of The Canberrean

 Foxtel Scores Own Goal

 Killer Bosses on Notice

 Apprentices Spitting Chips

 Howard Chokes Working Women

 Vice Regal Notes

 Survey – Do it Now or Else

 Greens Join Fight

 Workers win repreive

 Activists Whats 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

 Secure Advice
 All The Way With The USA
 Expensive Door Charge
 Teen Years in Detention
 Court Cases are Media’s Drug
 Lang Is Right
 Legalising Unfairness
 Hertz Meenz Hurtz
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Andrews Faces Probe

Victorian building workers are considering legal action against the federal government after seeing off Canberra’s latest bid to derail their enterprise bargaining.

CFMEU legal officer, Jesse Madisson, said evidence of "coercion" was being evaluated after six national building companies defied Canberra to agree on a draft three-year agreement.

The EBA, which retains the 36-hours week and delivers 13 percent wage movements, is expected to be signed by Multiplex, Bovis Lend Lease, LU Simon, ProBuild, and Baulderstone Hornibrook in the next few days.

"The underlying basis of the Workplace Relations Act is that parties should be free to reach agreements," Madisson says. "The Act forbids third party interference but the federal government has interfered, openly and aggressively, ever since we started negotiating.

"They have put every obstacle possible in our path and were still making threats this week.

"There has been an enormous amount of pressure placed on companies in an effort to stop them dealing with the CFMEU.

"We will be assessing individual cases with a view to exercising the legal remedies available to us."

The Government was desperate to get building companies to hold off negotiations until new industrial relations laws, limiting workers' rights and introducing harsh penalties, had been enacted.

Based on the discredited Cole Royal Commission, it has already enacted building industry specific laws, making almost any form of industrial action, including meetings, illegal.

These laws include gaol terms and fines of up to $22,000 for individual building workers, and fines of $110,000, per breach, for their unions.

They will be enforced by a special building industry police force with the power to over-ride basic civil rights. The Building Industry Commission can interrogate workers, order them to hand over documents and deny them the right to silence.

It may order a building worker not to divulge anything that transpires during an interrogation session to anyone but his/her lawyer.

The $65 Cole Commission lost its final shred of credibility, last week, when Building Industry Commission boss, Nigel Hadgkiss, admitted more than a year of investigations and hearings had resulted in just one prosecution, Australia-wide.

Former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, justified the taxpayer-funded Commission by claiming the industry was blighted by corruption and standover tactics.

Since the CFMEU began negotiations on a new EBA, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has urged employers not to deal; written letters offering support to those who held out; and even threatened to deny companies starts on multi-million dollar federal contracts.

The government has devised its own building industry code and threatened to black blacklist employers who negotiate outside its parameters.

In a last-ditch effort to derail the Victorian agreement, Andrews was this week threatening to over-rule advice from his own department that the draftagreement was code compliant.

Madisson said the government was gearing-up for an all-out assault on building workers' living standards.

"That's why this agreement is important," he said. "It locks in the terms and conditions of our members for another three years."


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