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Issue No. 273 22 July 2005  

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.


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.


 Centrelink to Cheat Workers

 Foot Soldiers Get Blisters

 Feds to Lift Voting Age

 Taskforce Plastered

 Paint It Slack


 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!


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.

 Frame Up
 Keep the Faith
 Life on a Low Wage
 Seeing the Trees For the Wood
 Carnival Comes to Town
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Freedom to Starve

Kevin Andrews’ own department has found another way to undermine its Minister’s assurances on workplace rules.

The department was recently outed for forcing new employees onto AWAs, while Andrews was assuring the public they were all about "choice", now it is flying in the face of government assurances it will retain the IRC as a robust dispute-settling mechanism.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is refusing to sign off on an agreement with 1500 CPSU members while they have the right to refer disputes to the Industrial Relations Commission.

"The Prime Minister is on record assuring Australians the commission will have an ongoing role is dispute resolution. If that is true, why is the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations refusing access to its own staff?" CPSU spokesperson Lisa Newman asked.

"We have had the right to take serious disputes to the IRC in our last two agreements but have never used it. We see it as a backstop that puts pressure on the parties to resolve issues in the workplace it.

"Without it, unfortunately, an aggressive party can simply stonewall an issue without making a genuine attempt at resolution."

Negotiations with the department have now dragged on for 11 months, raising concerns that it is running the political line of the federal government, rather than trying to bargain good faith.

Canberra is committed to spreading secret individual employment contracts in preference to transparent collective agreements.

While EBA workers have been stone-walled, employees have been lured onto AWAs offering immediate increases.

Departmental sources say whatever the going EBA offer, the department adds approximately one percentage point to that increase if workers will sign AWAs.

"Effectively, they are trying to starve people onto AWAs," Newman said.

"They have already said that the only way to get a job is on an AWA. Now they are suggesting the only way to get a wage rise is through an AWA.

"It's an interesting take on freedom of choice."

Frustrated CPSU reps are asking the public to help push the department into negotiating in good faith.

Online protests can be sen to Andrews and his departmental head, Peter Boxall, by following this link


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