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Issue No. 274 29 July 2005  

The Heart of the Matter
Senators Steve Fielding and Barnaby Joyce are right to quibble over the futures of Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day.


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.


 Carr Fingers Feds

 Boeing Scabs Take Flight

 Billion Dollar Blow Hards

 Door Closes on Foot Soldier

 Andrews Ropes In Footy

 Gooooood Morning Sydney!

 Posties Bite Back

 Choice Myth Busted Again

 Vale HT

 Dumb and DEWR

 Combet: Business Can't Be Trusted

 Telstra Burns Bush

 Detective on Death Site

 States of Disunity

 A Turbulent Decade


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.

 Don’t take your Gunns to town
 Yankee Panky
 Poetry in motion
 Losing the faith
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Andrews Ropes In Footy

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews will over-rule the effects of a 2003 case that delivered award minimum payments to tens of thousands of Victorian shoppies.

Andrews promised Queensland employers this week he would legislate to end roping-in provisions that unions have used to ensure people outside the reach of awards received minimum conditions.

In 2003, the SDA sought to rope-in Victorian retail bosses who had used Jeff Kennett's legislation to put workers onto individual contracts.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission ruled on January 17, 2003, that it was "beyond doubt" that the Kennett "safety net" had fallen below federal awards and that employees had been disadvantaged because they did not receive overtime, penalty rates, annual leave loadings, nor severance entitlements contained in the award.

The Kennett legislation was a forerunner of what the federal government intends imposing nationally, where individual contracts are only measured against a handful of minimum conditions.

University research into the Victorian situation, showed employees on Kennett's schedule 1A were "significantly disadvantaged" when compared with workers on award minimum rates.

Only six percent of Schedule 1A workplaces paid shift allowance; less than a quarter paid weekend penalties; barely a third paid annual leave loadings; and only 40 percent recognised overtime.

The situation was more dramatically outlined in the hospitality sector where only eight percent of such employers paid weekend penalties, and 19 percent paid overtime.

Andrews said Victorian retailers had been "forcibly roped-in" to paying award minimums.

"That doesn't make any sense at all," Andrews told a Commerce Queensland audience in Brisbane.

Andrews also told them that centralising industrial relations, under Canberra's control, "was not about centralisation".

In fact, he suggested, it was more like Australian Rules football.

"In the 1970s if you lived in Melbourne and followed football you watched the Victorian Football League," he explained.

"However football, along with the rest of ther world, has changed - to survive it got bigger, it crossed borders and it delivered several premierships to Queenslanders but as part of the Australian Football League."


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