||Issue No. 285||14 October 2005|
Howard’s Secret War
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
Hooray for Robots
Good Guy Done Bad
PM Endorses Billy Boy Tactics
Billy is one of the stars of the Howard regime's $100 million campaign to convince Australians they will benefit from lower wages and inferior conditions.
WorkChoices, a 68-page booklet produced to spruik the radical workplace rewrite, introduces "Billy" as a new-starter at a clothing shop who signs a take-it or leave-it AWA that strips him of a range of negotiated conditions.
"The AWA Billy is offered explicitly removes the award conditions for public holidays, rest breaks, bonuses, annual leave loadings, allowances, penalty rates and shift/overtime loadings," the document bearing the seal of "Australian Government" reads.
"Because Billy wants to get a foothold in the job market, he agrees to the AWA and accepts the offer."
"WorkChoices" makes it clear that Billy will have no choice about being covered by an award or collective agreement.
"The job offered to Billy is contingent on him accepting an AWA," it says.
Prime Minister, John Howard, has taken personal responsibility for Billy.
He told ABC interviewer, Kerry O'Brien, last week, he had asked for Billy to be inserted in the government publication so "we would be completely transparent about that kind of situation".
Howard said it would be reasonable to cut Billy's entitlements because, in the example quoted, he had been out of work and had had somebody bargain on his behalf.
When the Prime Minister was asked to confirm the same would apply to "many, many people", irrespective of their personal situations, he refused to answer the question.
Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said Billy blew two key government arguments out of the water.
"It demolishes the central argument on which individual agreements are based - that individuals have the same bargaining power as corporations," Robertson said.
"Who, in their right mind, would agree to losing a whole range of entitlements if they had genuine bargaining power?
"Equally, it gives the lie to assurances that this government is not about cutting wages and conditions. If employers can force all newcomers to work for inferior wages and conditions, it's not going to be long until everybody's living standards are affected."
The "WorkChoices" admissions came after months of Prime Ministerial and Ministerial evasions, and denials, about the likely effects of their workplace agenda.
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