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Issue No. 280 09 September 2005  

The Perfect Storm
The mayhem and misery engulfing New Orleans and its surrounds is more than a human tragedy of mammoth proportions, it is the product of a convergence of events that could shift our worldview every bit as much as the attacks on September 11, 2001.


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.


 Telstra Cuts Off Sick Mum

 CFMEU Pulls $3M Bank Job

 Life Imitates Ad

 Equal Pay Unlawful

 AWA Threatens Kids

 Howard’s Porky Exposed

 STOP PRESS: Bank Pinged

 Thongs Flap Into IR War

 Dad Sacked Over Safety Fears

 News Leader in Advertising Stink

 PM’s Spin Hit for Six

 Daffy Ducks Dud Deal

 Canada Shamed

 Combet Stars At Rooty Hill

 Vanstone Backs Ciggie Salaries for Detainees

 Flicking the Super Switch

 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.

 Telstra Trauma
 Telstra’s Calling
 What Poor People?
 The Day
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Equal Pay Unlawful

Federal Government's latest assault on collective bargaining has opened with a Bill that will make it unlawful for Australians to agitate for equal pay.

Amendments to the “Better Bargaining Bill”, passed through Parliament last week, ban employees, at different sites, from asking for similar wages or conditions, even when they are doing the same work.

They make industry-wide strikes illegal, and allow the Industrial Relations Commission to shut down lawful industrial action.

The move to block "pattern bargaining" or "equal pay for equal work" comes as the Government's Office of the Employment Advocate is promoting "pattern" individual agreements that cut ruling rate payments and do away with negotiated conditions.

The pattern bargaining ban applies only to collective contracts but is silent on AWAs and other forms of individual contracts.

The Bill gives third parties the right to seek IRC orders that would halt protected stoppages, and gives the Commission the power to stop protected action when it becomes effective.

There are no matching remedies for anyone to challenge employer lockouts.

The amendments, defeated three times in recent years, are now headed for the Coalition-controlled Senate.

ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, said they were another example of the Howard-led government's "hypocrisy" on workplace relations.

"We are now banned from asking for similar wages and conditions across multiple employers," Combet said. "At the same time, the government is actively promoting individual contracts by which employers can reduce the wages and entitlements of employees.

"It is blatantly unfair because this law only applies to collective agreements and not individual contracts."

Combet said Canberra was taking every step it could to deny Australians the right to collective bargaining.

The amendments are forerunners to major legislative change that will remove unfair dismissal rights from millions of Australians, and slash existing entitlements back to five minimum conditions.

The suite of anti-worker laws will be backed by jail time, and massive fines for unions, and individual workers, who engage in industrial activity that will be pronounced unlawful.

The government plans is legislating for fines of over $100,000 for unions and up to $20,000 for individual members.


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