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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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Unions Target Soap and Grunt

Viewers of soap operas and footy games will be given a wake up call on the impact of federal industrial changes when the ACTU launches an $8 million advertising campaign this week.

The TV and radio advertisements, to run in all capital cities and regional areas, are designed to raise awareness that the human costs of the work changes.

The advertisements show how taking away rights to unfair dismissal can wreak havoc on Australian families and how individual contracts will undermine job security and take home pay.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says research shows that few Australians were aware of the changes being proposed - but that once they understood the changes they overwhelmingly opposed them.

"Now that he has control of the Senate John Howard is trying to take away workers' rights by pushing through complex legal changes with little public debate," Burrow says.

"The challenge for unions is to make the public aware about what is at stake and hold the government accountable for this attack on working families."

The advertising campaign will be backed by action in workplaces and communities around the nation, as unions mobilise opposition to the changes.

"Making work less secure impacts on families and the community. These laws are not just an attack on unions they are and attack on the living standards of every Australian worker. They would be a backward step for working families at a time when many of them are already struggling just to keep their heads above water", Ms Burrow said.

The workplace changes announced by the Federal Government include plans to:

  • Abolish protection from unfair dismissal for 3.6 million workers employed in companies with less than 100 staff
  • Allow employers to put workers onto individual contracts that cut take-home pay and reduce employment conditions to only 5 minimum standards - workers who refuse to sign may fear being sacked
  • Change the way minimum wages are set to make them lower
  • Effectively abolish the award safety net and replace it with just 5 conditions - a minimum hourly rate of pay (currently $12.75), 8 days sick leave, 4 weeks annual leave, unpaid parental leave and weekly working hours. Many workers will lose conditions like weekend, shift and public holiday rates; overtime; redundancy pay; allowances; and casual loadings.


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