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Issue No. 282 23 September 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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!

C O L U M N S

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.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

Postcard
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.

L E T T E R S
 Fair Play
 Latham Lament
 Missed the Mark
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Builders Skirt Apprentice Claim


Building Industry bosses are hiding behind federal governmentís skirts in a bid to keep apprentice wages unsustainably low, the CFMEU charges.

Assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, confirmed the construction union would proceed with an IRC case aimed at lifting first-year apprentice rates, currently as low as $6 an hour.

The commitment came as the Prime Minister announced a radical shake-up of apprentice pay and training that would turn over remuneration to his hand-picked Fair Pay Commission which would set "levels that ensure they are competitive in the labour market".

Unions say that is John Howard's code for slashing training rates and green-lighting second-rate programs that will leave youngsters without readily marketable skills.

The Master Builders Association, however, has cited the Prime Minister's announcement as a reason for the CFMEU case to be put on ice.

"We won't turn our backs on young people who are struggling to get the skills our economy needs on wages as low as $6 an hour," Noonan said.

"At the moment, they could make more money at Maccas. Where's the incentive in that for dealing with our skills crisis?

"The MBA's opposition is opportunistic. It is scared to have the merits of the claim examined by the independent umpire."

The AMWU and ETU have joined the CFMEU in opposing Howard's plan.

ETU secretary, Bernie Riordan, says handing over training rates to the "Low Pay Commission" can mean only one thing - lower rates for apprentices and trainees.

He said government had also announced plans to strip limits on the duration of apprenticeships from awards.

"This will allow employers to embark on very narrow training, leaving young people with limited skills and the community short of the broad skill base necessary to support economic growth," Riordan said.


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