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Issue No. 282 23 September 2005  

Highway To Help
After five weeks, five and half thousand kilometres, and 40 regional town meetings attended by thousands of regional workers, the bright orange Rights at Work bus has finally come to rest.


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.


 AWA Threat - Soy You Later

 'Drama Queen' Court Out ... Again

 Work Law Refugee Turns On Howard

 Police Force Choice

 Low Blow in Ňd Wars

 Free Lunches to Cost Wal-Mart

 Robbo in Swan Song

 Howard Mines Pockets

 Star Chamber Faces Eclipse

 Mums Teach School a Lesson

 Sleepless In Seattle

 Safety Blitz After Accident

 Mushroom Mum Gets Satisfaction

 Builders Skirt Apprentice Claim

 Howard Threatens Wage Umpire

 Gunns Trained on Free Speech

 Activists Whatís 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.

 Fair Play
 Latham Lament
 Missed the Mark
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Free Lunches to Cost Wal-Mart

More than 100,000 US employees are involved in a class action that alleges retail giant, Wal-Mart, denied them meal breaks for years on end.

Their $66 million claim is one of dozens facing the corporate union-buster.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Fred Furth, told a Californian jury most employees dared not ask management about missed meal breaks. "Some of the braver ones did ask, and I'm going to prove Wal-Mart ignored their pleas to hire more help," he said, last week.

Under Californian law, 30-minute meal breaks are required after every five hours of work. Wal-Mart's employee handbook says workers whose breaks or meals are interrupted to perform work will be paid for the missed time off.

But despite the policy, the employees allege Wal-Mart's cost cutting culture meant they were not compensated and stores were routinely under-staffed.

Wal-Mart employees are suing for up to US$66 million in damages.

The action is one of many facing the retail giant. There are 40 similar "lunch break" suits filed against Wal-Mart in other US states.

Wal-Mart also faces a class-action in San Francisco, filed on behalf of 1.6 million female employees, alleging sexual discrimination.

The plaintiffs claim the company routinely paid female workers less than male workers. Wal-Mart is challenging the women's right to launch the action.

Last week, a workers' rights advocacy group, the International Labour Rights Fund, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against Wal-Mart on behalf of hundreds of workers abroad who were allegedly exploited by companies supplying goods to the retailer.

The suit describes a woman in Bangladesh who allegedly worked from 7.45am to 10pm and was not given a day off in six months.

Terry Collingsworth of the Labour Rights Fund said the case would be a test of whether codes of conduct drafted by corporations such as Wal-Mart were "simply public relations devices or whether they mean what they say".


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