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Issue No. 268 17 June 2005  

Courting Public Opinion
This weekend marks a significant step forward in the evolution of union campaigning, with the launch of $8 million in advertising to hit the Howard Government where it hurts – in the lounge rooms of middle Australia.


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


 Insults Hertz

 Andrews Bends Over for Big End

 Boeing, Boeing Gone

 Cobb & Co Punt Parkes

 Corporates Arm Firing Squad

 Quad Gets the Brush

 Practical Joke Costs Police

 Unions Target Soap and Grunt

 US Backs Terrorists

 Royalty Held Hostage in WA

 Bad News Rising On AWAs

 Workers Exercise Choice

 Howard Scores Own Goal

 RailCorp Shocker

 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

 Wandering In The Wilderness
 Once Upon A Time In America
 The Truth Is Out There
 History Repeats
 Cash Cow On Private Tax Farm
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Andrews Bends Over for Big End

Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, is considering dealing energy multi-nationals a no-strike trump card to play against Aussie families.

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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