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Issue No. 287 28 October 2005  

A Sick Set of Laws
The Howard Government’s inexorable push to strip workers’ rights continues; despite the warnings of unions, churches, community groups, labour market economists and now, epidemiologists.


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.


 Howard's Fatal Laws

 Saving Private Buy-In

 PM Scoffs at Wollongong

 Commo Bank in Denial

 Family Values

 Johnny Fails Comprehension Test

 Dole Bludgeoning - Andrews Comes Clean

 Jason Turns Leave into Leave!

 Halfback Puts the Boot In

 Business, As Usual

 Terror Laws Strike Fear

 Asbestos Giants Claw Back Compo

 Staff Told to Take a Hike

 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.

 Rung Out
 PM's Fatal Flush
 Sign of the Times
 Labor's Love Lost
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Howard's Fatal Laws

The federal government's changes to industrial relations could kill people, according to a major study into the impact of the new laws commissioned by Unions NSW.

Drawing on ground breaking research from social epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot, ACIRRT argues that there is a direct link between income inequality, sickness and lower life expectancy.

Marmot argues that there is a 'social gradient' that operates along the entire occupational and social hierarchy, meaning the more egalitarian a society the higher the life expectancy.

Where an individual lies on this hierarchy carries a direct link to life expectancy and fatal illnesses from conditions as diverse as stroke, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and gastro-intestinal disease.

The social gradient even operates in white-collar workplaces where employees are not poor or exposed to dangerous or hazardous work environments.

The report 'The Shape of Things To Come' finds that the industrial relations changes will inevitably widen inequality by pushing down the minimum wage and promoting individual work contracts. This creates a steeper social gradient.

"The evidence from epidemiologists is that there will be health costs arising from industrial relations reforms that will turbo-boost inequality".

"In the developed world, it is not the richest countries that have the best health, but the most egalitarian," the report says. For example, the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth, but only ranks 26th in terms of life expectancy.

Marmot's social gradient is not solely based on income distribution, but also looks at employee control, autonomy and satisfaction with work.

"Those in routine jobs with less control over their work and their lives had higher rates of heart disease, depression and other health problem,": the report says.

"The absence of reciprocity at work, rewards for effort, and outlets to control stress and balance work-life affects health risks such as coronary disease."

The wide-ranging report into the industrial relations changes also finds:

- that the award system will 'whither away' in the medium term, with employees in non-union workplaces the first to be transferred onto AWAs

- the number of Australian employees will fall as employer push more and more workers into contracting arrangements.

- New agreements will be narrowly focussed on wages and flexibility of hours, with the widespread loss of penalty rates and overtime.

- And a spread in the number of low-wage jobs, particularly in regional areas.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said the report was a valuable contribution to the debate around the future of work and would form the basis of the Unions NSW submission to the truncated Senate Inquiry.


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