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Issue No. 283 30 September 2005  

Revenge of the Footy Dads
The release of the second wave of ACTU TV advertising last weekend continues to take the debate around industrial relations into the broader community Ė and specifically the nationís footy grounds.


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.


 Brazilians Score at Rocky

 PM Discounts Fair Go

 Centrelink Crashes Internet

 On Yer Bikes

 Road Toll Off The Rails

 Part-Timers in Bank Heist

 Itís Eight Against Eight

 OEA Says Plaque You

 Kez and Rupe Tighten Grip

 Feds Get Blank Cheque

 Rev Kev Absolves Killers

 Turning Business Upside Down

 Stink Over CountryLink Shrink

 Nurses Brush Sick Offer

 Men Make Permanent Choice

 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.

 Four Cornered Rat
 Hrowadís Meixd Msesgaes
 Caveat Emptor
 Shop Front
 Petrol Price of War
 Unionist Slain
 Last Long Weekend
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PM Discounts Fair Go

John Howard has unveiled a plan to make Australians pay over $30,000 to challenge unlawful sackings.

Lawyers say the Prime Minister's plan to offer $4000 towards legal fees in suitable cases will help only a handful of people due to the expense and difficulty of the type of actions that will be available once the government introduces its IR changes.

"It [$4000] would cover about 10 per cent of the cost of an action in the Federal Court," says Steven Penning, partner of law firm Turner Freeman.

The Federal Government's plan to scrap unfair dismissal laws for 90 per cent of working Australians will mean those who are fired because of family responsibilities, race, gender, religious beliefs or political associations will have to argue "unlawful dismissal" in the Federal Court.

"$4000 would barely get you to the conciliation [the step before a hearing]" says another legal expert.

They say the difficulty in being able to prove that a worker was sacked for such reasons is backed up by court statistics, which show only five "unlawful terminations" have been heard in the Federal Court over the last three years, compared to 20,000 "unfair dismissals" in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Under the current system, state and federal IR Commissions can consider whether a sacking was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, rather than proving to the Federal Court an employee was sacked on grounds such as race or childcare commitments.

Besides the less formal process of proving "unfair dismissal" to a Commission, Mr Penning estimates such actions cost around half that of a Federal Court action.

"The Prime Minister's offer to provide legal advice to sacked workers is of no benefit whatsoever," says NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca.

According to him, the standard advice will be that almost every unfairly sacked worker will have no rights and no prospect of reinstatement.

"It's a job that could be done by an answering machine," he says.


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