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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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Howard Threatens Wage Umpire

John Howard plans to spear-tackle the independent umpire in a bid to hold down the wages of Australiaís lowest paid.

Federal workplace relations minister Kevin Andrews says that even if the Australian Industrial Relations Commission hears the ACTU's minimum wage case the government will ignore its decision.

The ACTU has lodged with the AIRC an application for a four percent pay rise, saying it is needed to maintain the value of minimum wages relative to other workers and to help the lowest paid keep up with rising petrol and living costs.

But the Federal Government says it will block the AIRC from awarding a pay rise and will stop the case from going ahead. It wants workers to wait until Howard's Fair Pay Commission starts making decisions at the end of 2006 though says there can be no guarantees any decisions will then be made in favour of employees.

ACTU secretary Greg Combet says low paid workers cannot afford to wait 18 months until Howard's Fair Pay Commission starts handing down its first decisions, saying the delay would be tantamount to a wage freeze.

"Petrol prices and other rises in the cost of living are putting working families under pressure. Many working people are struggling just to keep their heads above water and yet the Howard Government is offering no prospect of an increase for at least 18 months," Combet says.

He says a four percent pay rise represents an increase of $19.38 for people on the minimum wage - lifting their gross income to $503.80 per week.

Federal parliamentarians' own base salaries rise once a year, in 2005 jumping 4.1 percent to $111,150 per week or $191,734 for members of Cabinet. The Treasurer and PM are on $208,406 and $288,990 respectively.

Parliamentarians are not expected to have a wage freeze on their own take-home pay while Howard's new industrial laws are being introduced.

Meanwhile the ACTU is already a step ahead of plans to thwart its case, encouraging state labor councils to run simultaneous claims in their local industrial relations commissions if the AIRC claim is blocked.


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