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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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PM’s Spin Hit for Six

Aussies believe John Howard is coming after their penalty rates, annual leave entitlements and overtime payments, according to new polling.

Nearly two thirds of respondents in a marginal electorates survey said the Prime Minister's radical workplace agenda would be "bad" for the average worker, while 62 percent thought Australians would be "worse off" under individual contracts.

The poll of 614 people, living in marginals Australia-wide, was conducted by Melbourne-based, MarketMetrics Research, between August 19 and 24.

It found a high level of awareness of the government's workplace agenda, and strong rejection of Canberra's "higher wages, better jobs" spin.

More than three quarters of respondents said they had heard a lot or something about Howard's proposals, and 75 percent rejected his claim they would lead to better pay.

There was overwhelming support for laws that would enshrine rights to collective bargaining and union representation. Eighty seven percent of respondents thought union membership and collective bargaining should be legally enforceable rights.

The survey results were unveiled by the AMWU at federal parliament, last week.

National secretary, Doug Cameron, said they showed the public was not being taken in by the government's taxpayer-funded propaganda blitz.

"People are rightly concerned and wary," he said. "Workers know individual contracts will lead to a loss of conditions and entitlements, and that families will be much worse off."

Cameron was joined by two members, Keith Brown and Lesley Weers, who have first-hand experience of the frustrations caused by a system stacked against employees.

Brown, from Morris McMahon in Sydney, and Hawker de Havilland delegate Weers, have been involved in protracted disputes where employers have flatly refused to negotiate collective agreements, in the face of overwhelming votes in their favour.

They shared their experiences with a range of Senators and MPs.

Key results of the latest polling showed ..

- 41 percent of respondents had head a "lot" and 36 percent about "some" of the federal government's proposals

- 64 percent believed the changes would be bad for ordinary workers

- 62 percent felt that people who went onto individual contracts would be worse off, 30 percent felt they would be "a lot worse off"

- 64 percent felt people would be likely to lose penalty payments

- 58 percent thought people would be likely to lose annual leave loadings

- 57 percent said workers would be likely to lose control over their working hours

- 56 percent thought paid overtime was likely to go

- 54 percent thought job security was likely to diminish

- 86 percent supported laws that would compel employers to bargain collectively, if a majority of workers wanted to

- 75 percent disagreed with government's claim its changes would deliver better pay

- 62 percent rejected its contention they would lead to more jobs

- 52 percent disagreed they would lead to a stronger economy

Results of the AMWU polling showed greater awareness of the government's plans than had been revealed by a May survey, along with a hardening of opposition.


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