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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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AWA Threatens Kids

Harvey Norman, Liverpool, has sacked a Sydney Mum who queried an AWA that denied her the one weekend in three she spent with her children.

Melanie Reardon was also denied time off after her brother died, and says she was told, “everybody had to die sometime”, when she wanted to take her mother, who has cancer, for chemotherapy treatment.

Reardon told a Unions NSW meeting last week how she had worked with a broken leg for a year because she couldn't get the time off from work to have the necessary surgery.

She says that workplace flexibility means all give and no take for employees like her.

"I'm happy to work my share of weekends," says Reardon. "Before I signed the AWA I had two weekends off in six to spend time with my children, but now they wanted to take away another weekend from me and my family."

"You ask yourself what you're working for?"

Reardon was told by Harvey Norman that if she did not sign the AWA, which made no mention of roster changes, the company would not be able to keep her employed.

"The rosters change every three or four weeks and you have to change your entire life," says Reardon. "

Since joining the retail union, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), Reardon had her AWA overturned and won back her Award rights and a roster with family time every weekend.

After she challenged the new rosters she was 'counselled" for using a work telephone to contact the union. She asked for the "counselling" to be removed from her employment record; the day after that she was terminated.

"The company claimed to terminate her for her injury and being unfit for full duties. Reardon is cleared for full duties and ready to work," says an SDA spokesperson.

Reardon also discovered she was not been paid penalty rates for weekend work.

"We were not told what we were entitled to," says Reardon. "We were told at Harvey Norman that we were not allowed to join a union because we were not paid award rates."

Reardon was appalled when she could not get time off to attend a family gathering after her brother unexpectedly passed away, instead being required to assemble and disassemble bar stools at the Liverpool store.

The SDA has lodged a claim for unfair dismissal against Reardon's employer in the Industrial Relations Commission.


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