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Issue No. 278 26 August 2005  

A Secret Country
Beyond the obvious shift in the Australian political landscape, we are currently witnessing major changes in our political culture – personified in the two Herald Sun journalists currently facing jail.


Interview: On Holiday
Historian Richard White looks back on the Aussie vacation - and finds a way of life is under threat.,

Unions: One Day Longer
Nathan Brown travels to the Boeing picket line and find a group of workers with a steely determination to stick together.

Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Jim Marr plays the Howard Government's industrial relations spin job on its merits.

Politics: Spun Out
Canberra’s latest campaign underlines the need for controls over government advertising, according to Graeme Orr and Joo-Cheong Tham

Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
Evan Jones explains how the way we purchase alcolohol reflects the type of economy we live in.

History: Taking a Stand
Neale Towart looks at two books that chronicle how to build community support against social injustice.

International: The Split
Amanda Tattersal outsider's account of an insider's shake-out at the AFL-CIO Convention 2005

Legal: Pushing the Friendship
George Williams argues that the federal government’s constitutional powers are not sufficient to enact a comprehensive national industrial relations scheme

Poetry: Simple Subtractions
The latest blitz of taxpayer-funded advertising has revealed a crisis of arithmetic in government ranks has moved resident bard David Peetz to prose.

Review: Sydney Trashed
Sydney band SC Trash are on a mission to give new life to folk and country music – and the politics of common sense. Nathan Brown had a beer with them


 Busted: Howard's 14 Percent Fudge

 Emperor Stripped on Wages

 Witch Hunt Targets Priest

 No Malice in Pregnancy Termination, Court

 Building Boss Risks Lives

 Cleric Preaches Murder

 Bus Rams Home IR Message

 Contractors Get Run Of “The Mill”

 BHP Mining Cheap Labour

 Toll Bells For Corrigan

 Lorikeet Folds Wings

 Safety Is Apples In Orange

 IR Ads Dubious

 Striking Tongans Serenade Princess

 Activist's What's On!


The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, goes away for a couple of weeks and look what happens…

The Soapbox
The Last Weekend
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson's speech to the Last Weekend - how the Howard government laws will undermine the Ausrtalian way of life.

The Locker Room
A Concept Is Born
In which Phil Doyle helps the proponents of the vision thing across the road.

Workers Blood For Oil
A new book by Abdullah Muhsin and Alan Johnson lifts the lid on the bloody reality of US backed democracy for Iraq's trade unions

London Post
During his recent stay in London IEU industrial officer John Shapiro was living only a few hundred metres from the site of one of the bomb blasts.

 Rodent Knows Best
 Godspeed LHMU
 Help Wanted
 Proof in the Pudding
 Safeguards Already There
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Emperor Stripped on Wages

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has blown John Howard's workplace cover, revealing plans to slash real wages by around 50 percent.

Macfarlane came clean at the end of a 2GB interview with Alan Jones, last week, confirming claims made by critics of his government's radical workplace agenda.

"We've got to ensure that industrial relations reform continues so we have the labour prices of New Zealand," Macfarlane said. "We're already a decade behind the New Zealanders. There is no resting."

The admission flies in the face of claims by the Prime Minister and Workplace Relations Minister that legitimising unfair dismissal, slashing entitlements, and sidelining collective agreements in favour of individual contracts would lead to "higher wages".

New Zealand introduced similar legislation, the Employment Contracts Act, in 1991, and by 1997 its real wages were lower than they had been in 1977.

A study of supermarket wages, published in that country's Labour Market Review, revealed real wage falls of between 11 and 44 percent in the decade to 1997.

The steady decline in Kiwi earnings led to a flood of New Zealanders setting up home in Australia.

Annual immigration from the Shaky Isles rocketed from 8080 persons in 1991 to 34,339 in 2001.

Around 15 percent of working-age Kiwis now live in Australia and the New Zealand Government says its economy is being held back by a serious labour shortage.

Burwood-based bus driver, Yvonne Carson, told Workers Online last week that her wage packet increased by "around 50 percent", depending of shifts, as soon as she crossed the Tasman.

She said, with overtime, her bus driver husband earned up to double his New Zealand pay.

The AMWU released the following earnings comparisons for production workers, on either side of the Tasman, employed by the same company.

McCains: NZ Tradesperson $18.14 per hour, Australian $25.51; Advanced Tradesperson $19.18 - $27.75; Cleaner $10.75 - $16.29; Forklift Operator $11.89 - $16.33.

Visy: Forklift Driver $14.69 - $22.74. Operator $15.53 - $26.02.

Carter Holt Harvey Packaging: Corrugated Stacker Operator $11.99 - $23.09.

AMCOR: Single Face Operator $12.69 - $22.84.

The base weekly wage for a semi-skilled production worker is $503.00 while his/her Australian counterpart earns $912.50.

Meanwhile, figures from the two nation's statistics departments reveal that Australian workers' hourly productivity is 22.5 percent higher than their low-wage counterparts.

Mr Macfarlane made his on-air comments after attending cabinet meetings at which the effects of workplace changes were discussed.


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