||Issue No. 268||17 June 2005|
Courting Public Opinion
Interview: The Baby Drought
Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
Workplace: The Invisible Parents
History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
Politics: All God's Children
Economics: Spun Out
International: Shakey Trials
Legal: Civil Distrubance
Review: Crash Course In Racism
Poetry: You're Fired
The Locker Room
Once Upon A Time In America
The Truth Is Out There
Cash Cow On Private Tax Farm
Andrews Bends Over for Big End
Andrews is mulling over a radical demand to ban all strikes in oil, gas, power and possibly other sectors. The proposal, which breaches core ILO conventions, has been served up by a business taskforce, backed by corporate law firm, Clayton Utz.
Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said caving to the energy moguls' would be an attack on the living standards of thousands of Australian families.
"If these workers are going to be denied any right to strike their bargaining power will be severely curtailed," Robertson said.
"Effectively, they will be facing powerful multi-nationals with both hands behind their backs, courtesy of the Australian Government.
"Some of these companies play hard-ball. It would be extraordinarily difficult to go into negotiations with them knowing, no matter what they serve up, there is no capacity to take industrial action."
Big business clearly believes it has the Howard administration in its pocket.
Two weeks ago, lobbying by Business Council of Australia and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was rewarded with an IR blueprint designed to restrict the minimum wage, and slash rights workers have enjoyed for generations.
Awards and the concept of equal pay will be undermined by legislation that puts individual agreements at the centre of workplace life, denying people choice in whether they are covered by collective or individual agreements.
Howard and Andrews went further than the business lobby had requested, proposing to strip five million Australians of the right to challenge unfair dismissals.
On a roll, the business lobby and Clayton Utz, which also acts for big tobacco, have told Andrews to strip Australians in what they consider "essential services" of the right to strike.
Observers say previous business attempts to get such a favour have defined essential in the broadest terms, roping in occupational groups such as train drivers and nurses.
Another option suggested by the business lobby involves making it illegal for "higher paid" workers in electricity, gas and oil to take industrial action.
The business wish-list was delivered to Andrews at secret meetings in Canberra this week.
The Australian reported, last Thursday, that an Andrews spokesman confirmed "radical recommendations for essential service industries were being considered by the Government".
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