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Issue No. 273 22 July 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Split Infinitives
As unions across Australia put up a united front against the Howard IR assault, events across the Pacific serve as a warning of what can happen when individuals start going one out.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Centrelink to Cheat Workers

 Foot Soldiers Get Blisters

 Feds to Lift Voting Age

 Taskforce Plastered

 Paint It Slack

 Howzat!

 Hadgkiss in Safety Failure

 Freedom to Starve

 Police And Thieves

 Feds Make Asbestos Blue

 Scabs Farewelled

 Capital Idea Under Threat

 Masterton Homes Crumbles

 Activists Whats On!

C O L U M N S

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.

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

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

L E T T E R S
 Frame Up
 Keep the Faith
 Life on a Low Wage
 Seeing the Trees For the Wood
 Carnival Comes to Town
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Centrelink to Cheat Workers


The Howard Government will cut the dole to workers who refuse to sign AWAs that undercut award wages and conditions, according to government insiders.

A Centrelink staffer told Workers Online, on condition of anonymity, that job seekers who say no to such AWAs will be ‘breached’ – leading to cuts in their social security payments.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson has challenged Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews to give a public assurance he won't use the unemployed to grass cut workers' entitlements.

Kevin Andrews needs to come clean with the public," Robertson said. "We don't want double-speak, we want a straight answer - will his government refuse unemployment benefits to people who turn down AWAs that undercut registered, legal agreements?"

The federal government is pushing secret individual agreements (AWAs) in preference to collective agreements.

It has already legislated to allow employers to force new workers to sign AWAs, as a condition of employment, and has announced its intention to scrub the No Disadvantage Test that measures them against existing awards.

Even, under that system, Robertson said, its Office of the Employment Advocate had rubber-stamped individual contracts that undercut, or eliminated, conditions included in legally-registered agreements.

Under Andrews' proposed new system, AWAs will be legitimate if they meet five minimum standards which do not include penalty rates or overtime, and allow annual holiday entitlements to be slashed to two weeks.

Simultaneously, Canberra has announced its intention to get tough on beneficiaries by cutting entitlements to those who do not accept paid employment.

Robertson said withholding benefits from Australians who refused to undercut negotiated agreements would be a "significant step" towards the US system, based on a growing class of people referred to as the "working poor".

"This Minister keeps making contradictory statements, ducking and weaving, and then accusing us of misleading the public," Robertson said.

"It's time he told the truth, so Australians can make up their own minds, based on the facts."


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