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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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Foxtel Scores Own Goal

More than 100,000 Foxtel subscribers have had their signals scrambled by installation bungles, one year after unionised contractors warned the pay-tv outfit to lift training standards.

The blunders are a serious stumbling block to Foxtel's digital rollout and telephony corporates are looking around for someone to blame.

Foxtel has pointed the finger at its parent company, Telstra, which, in turn, is trying to level hefty fines on independent contractors.

CEPU (Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union) rep Shane Murphy said under-resourced contractors would fight back.

"If they attempt to fine these guys, or send them back at no charge, we will be calling a meeting and seeing where we go from there," Murphy said.

"One key reason for last year's strike was to get training on new technology.

"The company agreed but nothing has happened. Most of these guys hadn't worked in telephony before and they are expected to go into people's homes, cut into phone lines, then connect the phone lines back to the digital boxes.

"It's specialist work and, to do it properly, you need a minimum of a fortnight's training. Telstra gives them two hour in the classroom and sends them out."

The independents are at the bottom of a pyramid contracting operation that has been used to slash rates, conditions and training.

Foxtel contracts its cable connections to two international firms, ABB and Siemens Theiss, who, in turn, contract to Telstra, which subcontracts the work to independent operators.

Its satellite connections are contracted to BSA and Downer, then Telstra, then the independents.

Rates at the bottom had been screwed down so far that, since 2003, more than 800 installers joined the CEPU and fought collectively to improve their situations.

Last year they struck, picketed and blockaded corporate on the way to earning installation rate increases of up to 33 percent.

Soon after the contractors rolled Telstra and Foxtel, the federal government announced legislation that would make it illegal for them to have union representation in the ACCC, where contract disputes are heard.

Murphy says the "independent contractors bill", proposed by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, would leave the installers fighting commercial giants, like Foxtel and Telstra, single-handed.


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