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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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Thugs Are Go!

Peter Reith and Chris Corrigan would have got away with their assault on maritime workers if WorkChoices laws had been in force in 1998.

The tactics of sacking a workforce and shifting them out with balaclava-ed guards and dogs on chains would have been lawful under the proposed changes, legal experts have warned.

Under government proposals, an employer suspected of planning to dismiss workers in a situation like the 1998 waterfront dispute can sit silently while unions attempt the near-impossible task of proving discrimination.

The government intends turning current practise on its head when it comes to injunctions stopping employers from sacking people on the basis of union membership.

"The employers are the ones with all the information and the ones at the meetings," says Turner Freeman partner Steven Penning. "Because such decisions are made in a clandestine way, it is extremely hard for unions to find witnesses or documents to back them up."

Back in 1998, when Patrick Stevedores tried to use security men to keep unionised workers out and bring contract workers in, the law said bosses had to prove they weren't sacking wharfies just because they belonged to a union.

That law stopped Patricks' in its tracks because the company could not convince the court that this was not their plan. As such, the MUA was able to get a court order stopping the sackings.

"The importance of this requirement has been recognised by the High Court," says barrister David Chin. But in a couple of obscure sentences in the back of the Government's latest 60 page IR document, Howard has revealed his plan to make sure the bosses get their way in the future.

Under the planned IR changes, when someone comes to the court asking for a court order to stop workers from being sacked for being members of a union, the employer can sit back and say nothing while the person bringing the complaint has to prove it.

"It is very easy for an employer to say nothing the unions suspect ever happened," says Penning and Chin.


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