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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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Howard’s Porky Exposed

John Howard exaggerated the potential economic benefit of his decision to legitimise unfair dismissals by nearly 1300 percent, according to defence force academics.

The Australian Research Council-funded projected found that stripping Australians at workplaces of less than 100 people of unfair dismissal rights could create 6000 jobs, against the 77,000 claimed by the Prime Minister.

The study, by Paul Oslington and Benoit Freyens from the University of NSW Business School, set out to quantify the costs of dismissing employees, how they varied across industries, and the impact of the size of the operation.

Over three years, they carried out a quantitative survey of 1800 small and medium sized firms, employing more than 33,000 Australians, in conjunction with economic modelling of company behaviour.

More than 200 firms in the survey reported redundancies and there were 598 reported sackings of which 451 were not disputed.

The survey put the average cost of an uncontested dismissal at $3044, or 10.3 percent of average wage costs, against $14,705, or 35.7 percent, for the 37 matters that went to arbitration or the courts.

Modelling brought them to an estimated gain of about 6000 jobs nationwide if small and medium sized businesses were give the green light to unfairly dismiss workers, in line with government plans.

"Unfair dismissal regulations are politically sensitive in Australia, associated with a number of other controversial changes to labour market regulation," the authors wrote.

"It is important to evaluate the unfair dismissal changes separately from the other proposed changes - it is perfectly possible that one change may not be supported by the evidence while others are beneficial.

"Neither of us had a political agenda in undertaking the research, and in fact our beliefs were probably that firing costs haed a large effect on employment. The evidence suggests otherwise."


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