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Issue No. 281 16 September 2005  

Marked Territory
If the mountain of pre-publicity is indicative of its content, the Latham Diaries will read a little bit like a sausage cookbook; full of grisley details about the makings of something we would rather take on face value.


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 wonít 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 Timorís 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.


 Flexibility - Bush Rates Slashed

 Seamen Marooned on Tassie

 Families Win Refuge in Tamworth

 Catholics Nail Andrews' Heresy

 IR Changes a Beach

 Drama Queen Applies Gloss

 Peace a Security Threat

 OEA Flicks Fraud Case

 Auto Workers Drive Union Win

 Bush Adds Insult to Injuries

 Job Vandals Cash In

 Lib Heads Witch Hunt

 Sydney Water Damned

 Super Blue Warms Up

 Activist's 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.

 Dinosaurs Bite Back
 Killer Culture
 Who Cares?
 Do the Bus Stop
 A Touch of Honesty
 Boss Made Me Sick
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Flexibility - Bush Rates Slashed

The Federal Government has delivered the bush its first taste of workplace flexibility, paying regional focus group participants half the amount it gives those in the city.

Howard Government representatives paid Melbourne residents $100 for commenting on TV ads designed to shore up their faltering workplace campaign but slashed the handout to $50 in regional NSW.

Workers Online has spoken to participants who said the $20 million ad campaign, designed to promote secret individual contracts, unfair sackings and award stripping, was short on specifics.

"They went down like a lead balloon," one focus group member said of the 12 advertising concepts. "People didn't think they were factual."

Participants in the focus groups were asked to fill out forms, giving their views on Canberra's workplace agenda. They were then subjected to 12 different presentations, via story boards, and asked to comment.

They revealed the feds intend to hammer patriotism, under a theme of "Australia we have an opportunity". And they will continue to run arguments that have been discredited by independent research.

The tag line on all presentations will build on the Prime Minister's higher real wages furphy.

Howard claims real Australian wages have increased by 14 percent since he took office in 1996. Analysis by labour market specialists at Sydney University revealed that figure was a nonsense, built on massive increases for the high paid, including business executives and politicians.

After their hikes were subtracted, accirt found the real figure was 3.6 percent and that fell with every move down the income scale.

Another ad will say unfair dismissal rights cost the Australian economy $1.3 billion a year.

The figure comes from the same "study" Howard used to claim that denying Australians the right to challenge unfair sackings would deliver another 77,000 jobs.

It was based on a survey of managers' "opinions" and was undermined by a three-year Australian Research Council-funded study into what 1800 small and medium sized businesses actually did.

It showed the Howard claims was exaggerated by nearly 1300 percent.

Focus group members reported that widespread opposition to the Howard agenda delivered at least one concession, with a pledge to guarantee at least 10 sick days a years.

TV ads are being produced to deal with specific fears over entitlements and unfair dismissal. There will be an over-arching "opportunity" production and a series of "stories" about people who allegedly benefit from AWAs.

One, participants said, featured removalists who worked longer daily hours in return for extra time off but didn't quality for overtime until they had worked a 50-hour week.

It would seem to call into doubt Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews' assurance, that he will enshrine a 38-hour week in legislation.

The Government faces a High Court challenge to the validity of its taxpayer- funded advertising campaign.


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