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Issue No. 285 14 October 2005  

Howard’s Secret War
There are two wars being waged against Australian workers right now.


Interview: Under Fire
Michael Crosby outlines his agenda to save the movement – and explains why Australians have nothing to fear from the SEIU.

Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Wal King, Allan Moss, Roger Corbett, Chip Goodyear, Michael Chaney and David Murray have lots in common, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: Un-Australian
Labour lawyer Clive Thompson argues the changes to IR are fundamentally at odds with the national tradition of consesensus.

Economics: The Common Wealth
As the policy wonks debate the future of our cities, Neale Towart mounts a simple argument: It’s the real people in a society, stupid

History: Walking for Justice
The Eight Hour Day, a very Australian celebration, had its origins in New Zealand it seems, writes Neale Towart.

International: Deja Vu
A group of trade unions have walked away from America's peak council, again. Labourstart's Eric Lee was there.

Legal: The Rights Stuff
Terror laws have sparked a fresh debate on a Bill of Rights - and workers have a bigger stake than ever before, writes Rachael Osman-Chin.

Review: That Cinderella Fella
Russell trades the phone for mitts in an inspiring cinematic slug-fest. Nathan Brown is ringside

Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
Mel Cheal asks who Howard thinks he is kidding to the tune of the ‘Dad’s Army’ theme song.


 Call Centre Dials Up Future

 Greenfields Become Cotton Fields

 PM Endorses Billy Boy Tactics

 Stats Go Missing

 Paper Tiger in Protection Racket

 Thugs Are Go!

 Usual Suspects Bite Employers

 Pay Boss Opposed Living Wage

 Tele Enlists Boss’ Family

 Entitlements Go AWAy

 State Employees in Limbo

 Activist’s What’s On!


The Soapbox
No Place For A Woman!
Doreen Borrow spoke to the Public Service Association’s women’s conference in September about her experiences of working life that span seven decades.

North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Locker Room
In which Whatsisname slams the recent poor form of Thingummyjig.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West MLC, gets all casual in his latest missive from the Bear Pit.

 JWH's Inspiration
 Hooray for Robots
 Government's Dream
 Come Clean
 Good Guy Done Bad
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Paper Tiger in Protection Racket

Non-unionists with problems at work will have to rely on a federal government agency with an abysmal enforcement record.

The Office of Workplace Services admitted to a 2004 Senate hearing that, in the 2002-03 year, it hadn't prosecuted a single employer, anywhere in Australia, for breaching an award or agreement.

The Office, which covers about five million workers on federal arrangements, said it had received 5254 complaints, during that year, and that 3500 had been "substantiated".

From that workload, it recovered owed monies on three occasions.

By comparison, the NSW Industrial Relations Department, responsible for around 79,000 employees, prosecuted 484 breaches in 2002 and another 256 in 2003.

In those two years, it won back $3.03 million and $2.5 million for dudded workers.

Individual unions, like the CFMEU and FSU, have won back more than $10 million for rorted members in a single year.

Howard is transferring all state enforcement responsibilities, under the new workplace regime, to his Office of Workplace Services.

"Whether you are an employee or an employer your rights will be protected under WorkChoices by the Office of Workplace Services," the government's taxpayer-funder IR booklet confirms.

"OWS will be an easily accessible 'one stop shop' for all enforcement and compliance activities.

Unions NSW representative, Matt Thistlewaite, says the move is part of a pattern of taking compliance functions from independent bodies to hand-picked creations of the federal government.

"They don't trust anyone or anything that is independent," Thistlewaite says.

"We have seen this with the establishment of the Office of the Employment Advocate, the Building Industry Taskforce and, most recently, the appointment of a hand-picked economist to take over minimum wage setting from the ÅIRC.

"This government writes the rules, then appoints its own umpire.

"All the old conventions, about impartiality and independence, have been junked."

Thistlewaite estimates that if federal government succeeds in its bid to wrest control of state IR systems, the OWS will become the compliance agency responsible for more than nine million workers.


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