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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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Bad News Rising On AWAs

Quality journalism and increasing experience no longer guarantee pay rises at the West Australian newspaper where staff asking for more are given a simple ultimatum: sign an AWA or stay stuck on the current rate.

The newspaper, twice warned about bullying behaviour, has told new staff they can have only have a job if they sign an AWA, says the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

MEAA WA branch secretary Michael Sinclair-Jones says management refers to the documents as "No-Strike AWAs".

They require journalists to work if colleagues go on strike and remove a number of existing benefits, including an entitlement to six weeks annual leave, independent dispute resolution, and the right to have overtime payments fairly calculated.

"The AWAs introduce a set rate to compensate for overtime but there is no measure of how much overtime is considered unreasonable," Sinclair-Jones says.

"This makes a mockery of the Federal Government's claims that AWA's offer flexibility of employment. In practice they force a take it or leave it situation.

"The concern we have is that instead of having pay rises on merit, journalists are now being asked to sign away their hard won rights to advance in their careers."

Sinclair-Jones says this is particularly unfair on cadet journalists, who are being assigned to AWAs as little as 12 months long.

"Signing 12 months AWAs is contrary to the established practice of providing long-term career opportunities to industry newcomers and training journalists. It assigns them no faith in their future."

The MEAA believes insistence on signing the AWAs is a deliberate attempt to undermine journalists' bargaining power when their collective agreement expires next year. But Sinclair-Jones says the tactic is likely to backfire.

"Using AWAs creates a workplace climate driven by insecurity and uncertainly because people don't know if they are going to have their jobs once they expire. This has an impact on morale and productivity.

"People are singing them because they have no choice," he says.

The MEAA is urging members to contact their union if they are offered AWAs so it can act as their bargaining agent.


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