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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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Pay Boss Opposed Living Wage

The right-wing economist appointed to head the Howard Government's proposed Low Pay Commission is on the record opposing the idea that minimum wage levels should sustain basic living standards.

Professor Ian Harper bagged the Harvester Judgement of 1907, where the living wage principle was established, in an article for the conservative thinktank, the Centre of Independent (Sic) Studies.

While the conservative press is talking up Professor Harper's credential as an economist and Christian, his writing on the minimum wage reinforce the worst fears of workers that wages are about to head south.

Writing for the CIS Policy magazine, Professor Harper noted how other countries weren't burdened with the need to pay a socially determined minimum wage:

"...other countries did not try to divorce wages from the low levels of productivity characteristic of high-employment manufacturing industry. Employers in the sweatshops of lower Manhattan were not obliged to raise wages to 'fair and reasonable' levels....

"In reality, the standard of fairness and reasonableness was set by the higher wages paid (and afforded) by higher productivity primary industry. It was considered unfair and unreasonable to pay lower wages to those whose employers...could not afford to pay wages at the same levels.

" Faced with the choice between greater wage dispersion and lack of international cost competitiveness, Australia chose the latter (while, faced with the same choice, the US chose the former).

NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca, says the appointment of Professor Harper was an indication that minimum wages would no longer be based on the cost of living.

"The Commonwealth Minister has previously claimed minimum wages in Australia are $70 a week too high," Della Bosca says. "It appears that Professor Harper has been hand-picked to fix that."

"There is a school of thought that says employers shouldn't have to pay a wage that gives an employee the ability to clothe, feed and shelter themselves

"This concept of paying the lowest wage that anyone will work for flies in the face of a 100 year old Australian tradition of fairness, based on the Harvester Judgement."


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