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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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Johnny Fails Comprehension Test

Welcome to the wonderful world of Workchoices.

In this exclusive story, Workers Online, lifts the lid on what punters are really telling John Howard about his plot to rewrite the workplace rulebook.

Courtesy of a "Telstra Database Client Report", we can reveal it was an interesting day, if not a busy one, at Workchoices call centres around Australia on Thursday, October 20.

The Comments Report, standard practice in the call centre industry to give "clients" a feel for their "customers", shows the miserable quantity of calls was more than made up for in quality.

Telstra's first recorded comment for the day was logged at 8.37am.

"She wanted to join a union" was the terse message forwarded to Kevin Andrews' underlings at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

Unfortunately, Telstra does not tell us what efforts were made to facilitate the "client's" requirement.

But, for Andrews, it would only get worse.

8:55 "Protest at the advertising cost involved with WorkChoices."

9.36 "Enquiring about the no-disadvantage test."

10.25 "Unhappy with the changes, felt like he was uninformed."

By 11.10 the punters were getting serious: "A man just rung and asked me to write this, from a card-carrying Liberal. This will put us in the wilderness for at least 20 years. The impact of this will be to kick the Liberal Government out."

The next recording wasn't made until 12.06: "Disgruntled caller was upset with the proposed changes."

The 13.07 provided some welcome relief: "Caller selling advertising. Directed to deal with DEWR direct."

Then, normal service resumed:

"I find the amount of money being spent on this advertising campaign is totally disgraceful."

"Larry objects to our tax dollars being spent on this campaign."

"The caller says the info is misleading because is reads it reads as if you will have a choice ..."

"I do understand that IR has evolved over the last 100 years and I believe there should be an independent enquiry .."

"Customer complained there are too many ads on the TV."

"Caller is not happy with the reforms."

"This money should be going to Pakistan instead of wasting it on this bullshit.'

By 19:23 the television-watching demographic was jumping on the blower:

"Customer wished to leave a comment. I just want to say too much money is being spent on propaganda and also make a note of the fact it shouldn't be spent on advertising but, instead, should be put towards people getting jobs. I'm sick and tired of seeing it ..."

19:56 "caller was not happy."

21:06 "Is the Liberal Party trying to insult the intelligence of the average working person with this saturation advertising?"

21:11 "reducing the duration of the ads does not reduce the insult."

21.32 "Protecting existing awards will mean nothing in years to come if those awards are undercut by the under class you are creating."

21:37 "Man was angry about it being done with taxpayers' money."

21:40 "Caller feels the government is spending way too much money on the ads promoting the WR reform (i.e. every time he watches tele he sees them. He believes that the money should go to mental health and people in need. Caller was very nice though.)

22:07 "Mrs Helen .... Ph (...) would like to register the comment she thinks it is outrageous that the government is funding this advertising campaign and paying call centre staff to man telephones until 10pm."

With that, apparently, the lines went silent.

On the very same day, Howard was telling ABC Radio listeners that his information indicated his workplace change campaign was working.

He said research showed the hearts-and-minds campaign had been "successful".

At least, he can't accuse Workers Online of reading his mail.


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