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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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Commo Bank in Denial

The Commonwealth Bank has shocked shareholders by denying its role in legal action against its own employees.

Chairman John Shurbert misled mum and dad investors when he denied the bank was suing the FSU for its attempt to have a resolution passed at last year's AGM.

"I would say the issue with the union was not about shareholder activity, it was in relation to strike action," said Shurbert of the recently heard court case brought by the bank against the Financial Services Union.

"That is absolutely wrong," replied FSU deputy secretary Sharron Caddie, who described Shurbert's repeated denials as "amazing."

Both parties are waiting for a decision in the matter, which has been described by observers as a landmark case in shareholder activism.

At the 2004 AGM the FSU, which is a shareholder of the bank, raised a resolution requiring management to review the impact of its "Which New Bank" restructuring program on customers and staff. At least 3700 jobs have been lost under the program.

The bank, which was already suing the union over a number of strikes and other industrial action, argued the union was "coercing" it into signing a new enterprise agreement by rasing the resolution and by writing to board members.

It is the first time in Australia that a union has been sued for taking action as a shareholder.

Caddie and two FSU state secretaries attended this year's AGM to ask questions about staff pay and conditions, a marked difference from the 150 bank employees who protested outside of the 2004 AGM.

Caddie said the union wished to have a low-key presence at this year's AGM in an effort to encourage friendly relations with new chief executive, Ralph Norris, who took up his position just over a month ago.


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