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Issue No. 286 21 October 2005  

Lord of the Lobster Legs
It was probably only shame that prompted the Prime Minister to drag himself away from a $250 per head fundraiser to meet with a group of emergency workers in Wollongong this week. But, this in itself may be a development.


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.


 Family Grieves an Enterprise Worker

 All Quiet in Dandenong

 Hotline Gets Wires Crossed

 High Flyer Crashes Families

 Bolt Strikes Lecturer

 Good Heavens - Della Plays Santa

 Maori Take Challenge to Canberra

 Drips Fail Water Test

 Hardie Shuts the Door

 Hadgkiss Threatens Protesters

 Army Fires Salvo

 The Munro Doctrine

 IR Sparks Emergency Call

 Tassie Jobs Hit By Truck

 Canberra Coy on Promised Statements

 Inquiry to Speak No Evil

 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.

 Sacking For Dummies
 DIY Tool
 Thus Spake Sydney Uni
 Morgan’s Way
 Vote 1 Dictator
 Howard’s Choice
 Buying peace Of Mind
 Coolies Bullish
 Unfair ads
 Rev Kev Speaks
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The Munro Doctrine

The Howard Government’s proposed workplace changes will take industrial relations back to the 1890s, according to a Senior Presidential Member of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

In a speech to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Society, the Honorable Paul Munro, said the Howard Government was wrong to call the changes 'reforms' and suggested that the changes are, in fact, "regressive" and "counter-revolutionary in character" because they are "driven by market ideology".

"This is certainly the biggest shakeup in workplace relations since Stanley Melbourne Bruce tried to abolish the industrial relations commission back in 1927," Mr Munro said, "And he lost his seat as a result."

"These changes take us back to a freer labor market that existed at the end of the 19th century when unionists on strike could be - and indeed, were - jailed," he said.

By substituting the Australian Fair Pay Commission for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, along with other measures in the new Workplace Relations System, the Government will effectively eliminate the safety net.

"In the past workers have been able to collectively bargain above the safety net and were unable to go below it," he said, "because these minimum conditions were set by an independent third party."

"Now minimum conditions will be set by the Fair Pay Commission which is a creature of executive government. This commission won't be on the job until late next year when it will probably offer a small increase to save the Government's bacon," he said.

Mr Munro suggested that it won't just be the wages of the unskilled that will be eroded over time as the changes take affect, "there are plenty of skilled trades people whose pay rates are award related."

"It's an appalling scenario, in one sense," Mr Munro said, referring to what he called a "simplistic defensive ploy" made by John Howard who said that "Fairness begins with a job".

"I feel a great sympathy for those who work on plug-in rates on penalties, some throughout the night stacking shelves," he said, "where once they were paid six hours pay for three hours of difficult work now they will only be paid for three hours. It's taking money out of their mouths."

Mr Munro said the changes will also put pressure on employers who want to maintain a stable workforce and look after the good workers they have.

"Many of these will lose contracts as the market gets tighter and they are under pressure against someone who uses labor hire as a rival and underbids," he said.

For some employers, Mr Munro said, maintaining a high quality workforce will be difficult, "it will serve them well to keep a good relationship with their employees."


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