||Issue No. 277||19 August 2005|
Interview: On Holiday
Unions: One Day Longer
Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Politics: Spun Out
Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
History: Taking a Stand
International: The Split
Legal: Pushing the Friendship
Poetry: Simple Subtractions
Review: Sydney Trashed
The Locker Room
Think of the Kids
Stand Your Ground
Top End of Town to Write IR Laws
Amidst rumours of tensions and confusion within the federal Attorney General’s Department, corporate law firms have seconded offices to provide the briefing instructions to the government.
Firms that have been called in include Freehills, Phillips Fox, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Minter Ellison, Blake Dawson Waldron and Clayton Utz - the firms that service Australia's biggest companies, who through the BCA have been leading the push for wholesale deregulation.
They have been called in at a time where the government bureaucracy is struggling to give affect to the Prime Minister's sweeping changes.
Workers Online understands the government is so paranoid about details of the legislation being leaked, that different teams of lawyers are drawing up different versions of the new Act.
There are also serious concerns about the constitutionality of the changes, with a growing body of legal opinion that the changes will be vulnerable to a High Court challenge.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says that shipping in corporate lawyers to write IR laws is "a bit like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank".
"The fact that no law firms that represent workers have been asked to contribute to the process shows where the priorities of this government really lie."
Mr Robertson also questioned how firms that had wrote the Act would not have an advantage in cases over the laws' application.
Police Force Will Lack Bite
As the Howard Government struggles to hold back growing concerns that the laws will attack workers rights, it was this week revealed the government will beef up its Office of Workplace Services, to protect workers from being bullied into signing AWAs.
But an analysis of the work done by the agency currently charged with protecting workers rights, the Office of the Employment Advocate, gives little grounds for confidence that workers will be protected.
"The OEA's record shows that they do not take an even-handed approach between employers and unions," Robertson says.
"There has been a single, solitary prosecution against an employer for sacking an employee on AWAs since 1999."
"If this is the model of a worker-friendly government body, then very few workers will be reassured."
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