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Issue No. 279 02 September 2005  

Middle Australia
The Prime Minister rarely responds directly to criticism, so when he rushed out a media release rebutting an ACIRRT analysis of wages data this week, it was clear that they had a hit a raw nerve.


Interview: Polar Eclipse
Academic David McKnight challenges some sacred cows in his new book "Beyond Left and Right".

Industrial: Wrong Turn
Radical labour reform is on the horizon but some workers, like Sydney bus driver Yvonne Carson, have seen it all before, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Star Support
It wasn't just families who backed workers' rights at The Last Weekend, but a bunch of musicians who set the tone, writes Chrissy Layton.

Workplace: Checked Out
Glenda Kwek asks you to consider the plight of the retail worker, and shares some of her experiences

Economics: Sold Out
The Future Fund and industrial relations reform are favourite projects of the PM and the Treasurer. Both are speculations on the future and the only guarantee with them is that you will be worse off, writes Neale Towart.

Politics: Green Banned
The impact of new building industry laws won’t be confined to one industry, writes CFMEU national secretary John Sutton.

History: Potted History
Lithgow is a place with a proud history as a union town. The origins of broader community solidarity lie in the early industrial development of the town and the development of unions. The Lithgow Pottery dispute of 1890 was a key event.

International: Curtain Call
The curtains have opened for East Timor’s young theatre performers, thanks to a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project.

Review: Little Fish
At last! An Aussie film with substance, suspense and a serious dose of reality, writes Lucy Muirhead

Poetry: Slug A Worker
In a shock development, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gave a ringing endorsement to the poetry pages of Workers Online, writes resident bard David Peetz.


 Trucks Run Down Mums

 Boom! Biff! It’s Howard Unplugged

 Fun Guy Spreads Fertiliser

 Doors Close on Battered Mums

 Bing Lee Peddles Rubbish

 Bless This Bus

 High Court: Ads Do Kremlin Proud

 Families Water Win

 Tesltra Cuts Get Poor Reception

 Vegetable Campaign Sprouts

 Check Work/Family Balance Here

 Tim Wins For Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA

 Activists What’s On!


The Soapbox
Families First
New Senator Stephen Fielding turned a few heads with his Maiden Speech to Parliament.

The Locker Room
The New World Order
Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

On The Bus
A bright orange bus travelling the state has become the focus of the campaign against federal IR changes. Nathan Brown was on board.

 Care Confusion
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Doors Close on Battered Mums

Community workers sacked on the spot when a Tamworth women’s refuge closed are setting up their own service in the street outside.

They took the drastic action after the Tamworth Women’s Refuge was closed due to a service “restructure”, leaving the more than 2000 families a year who use the service without adequate care.

The closure also saw the six staff that worked at the refuge without a job. Workers were called to a meeting where they were sacked on the spot and told to return their keys.

"I was absolutely devastated," said Chris Solberg, a crisis worker at the refuge for 13 years. "There was no indication to any of us [that the refuge was going to close]."

Three women who were staying at the refuge at the time it closed were relocated to an Aboriginal hostel in Tamworth.

Support services for the women have been reduced from 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the refuge to 9am to 5am, Monday to Friday with a social worker.

"Apparently nothing goes wrong outside those times," Solberg said. The sacked staff will set up their own service to provide support overnight.

The Australian Services Union is providing family support services for the former residents and plans to set up a temporary refuge until a more adequate solution can be reached. They are also fighting to have the workers reinstated.

ASU branch secretary Sally McManus said the union was seeking the intervention of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission and called on the NSW Minister for Community Services to resolve the issue.

"The workers have been unfairly dismissed and the NSW Women's Refuge Movement Working Party should be held to account for its actions," she said.

Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson said this and other cases of employee mistreatment was "setting tone for workplace relations in this country".

"People think they can get away with whatever they want, whenever they want," he said.

Robertson pledged to stop the Your Rights at Work bus outside the refuge when it tours the North Coast if the matter had not been resolved before then to highlight the situation.


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