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Issue No. 272 15 July 2005  

Home Ground Advantage
American pollster Vic Fingerhut has been in Australia this week with a reassuring message to the labour movement - it's OK to stand up for what you believe in - and it might even win you elections.


Interview: Battle Stations
Opposition leader Kim Beazley says he's ready to fight for workers right. But come July 1, he'll have to be fighting by different rules.

Unions: The Workers, United
It was a group of rank and filers who took centre stage when workers rallied in Sydney's Town Hall, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: The Lost Weekend
The ALP had a hot date, they had arranged to meet on the Town Hall steps, and Phil Doyle was there.

Industrial: Truth or Dare
Seventeen ivory towered academics upset those who know what is best for us last week.

History: A Class Act
After reading a new book on class in Australia, Neale Towart is left wondering if it is possible to tie the term down.

Economics: The Numbers Game
Political economist Frank Stilwell offers a beginners guide to understanding budgets

International: Blonde Ambition
Sweden can be an inspiration to labour movements the world over, as it has had community unionism for over 100 years, creating a vibrant caring society, rather than a "productive" lean economy.

Training: The Trade Off
Next time you go looking for a skilled tradesman and can’t find one, blame an economist, writes John Sutton.

Review: Bore of the Worlds
An invincible enemy has people turning against one another as they fight for survival – its not just an eerie view of John Howard’s ideal workplace, writes Nathan Brown.

Poetry: The Beaters Medley
In solidarity with the workers of Australia, Sir Paul McCartney (with inspiration from his old friend John Lennon) has joined the Workers Online resident bard David Peetz to pen some hits about the government's proposed industrial relations revolution.


 PM Rallies on Spin

 Crafty Boss Bytes Staff

 Andrews Faces "Thuggery" Challenge

 Delta Blues

 NRL Plays Man Not Ball

 Boeing Hits Turbulence

 Whole Truth Eludes Rev Kev

 Correct Weight Caulfield

 Business Nervous Over IR Changes

 Last Weekend Gets a Lift

 Free Pass for Death Doctors

 Activists Whats On!


The Soapbox
State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson lifts the lid on ‘The Nine Myths of Modern Unionism’

The Locker Room
Wrist Action
Phil Doyle trawls the murky depths of tawdry sleaze, and discovers Rugby is behind it all.

To Hew The Coal That Lies Below
Phil Doyle reviews Australia's first coal mining novel, Black Diamonds and Dust.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

 Do It Yourself?
 The vision thing
 True Lies
 You C.A.N. Do It
 Water Works
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Crafty Boss Bytes Staff

An employer, pinged for discriminating against union members, is using AWAs to slash wages by $25,000 a year.

Bytecraft, which has the contract to maintain TAB betting machines, has staff on AWAs that include a 48 hour week with no penalty rates or leave loading. They force workers to take parental leave out of sick leave – all for a base salary of $27,000 a year.

Under a 2000 Certified Agreement between Bytecraft and the ETU provided technicians earned $54,000 a year.

In October, 2003, the Office of the Employment Advocate okayed the AWAs, arguing they complied with the Business Equipment Technical Service Award, although no TAB betting machine maintenance technician had ever been employed under this award.

A competitor was paying technicians $44,000 prior to Bytecraft taking over the contract.

The individual contracts provide an hourly rate a little under a dollar above the minimum wage and allow for summary dismissal, 12-hour shifts and make no mention of occupational health and safety, or personal protective equipment.

An anti-discrimination clause covers every legislated ground for discrimination except union membership.

In 2001, Bytecraft CEO John Rowland made two ETU members redundant a day after his manager told staff that there was an "excess" of work.

The ETU took the matter to the industrial umpire as a case of anti-union discrimination. Commissioner Lewin of the Industrial Relations Commission was scathing of the evidence of Rowland in determining a payout of over $60,000 to the two sacked workers, on top of their existing entitlements.

Virgin "Robs" $4,000

Meanwhile, the Office of the Employment Advocate has ticked off on AWAs that allow Virgin Mobile to "rob" call centre staff by up to $4,000 a year, according to United Services Union secretary Michael Want.

Want says the move totally contradicts Prime Minister John Howard's 1996 claim that no worker would be worse off under his laws.

"This proves that Howard's commitment is a joke and that without collective protection workers are being ripped off right across Australia."


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