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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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Dole Bludgeoning - Andrews Comes Clean

Twelve weeks after Workers Online broke news of the Howard Government's intention to cut welfare payments to Aussies who “chose” not to sign crook AWAs, Canberra has fessed-up.

In an interview with ABC TV's Insiders programme, last Sunday, Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews confirmed Workers Online had been on the money.

"We don't make any excuse for this," Andrews said.

"We believe that the best form of welfare that a person can have is to have a job."

Andrews' public admission came three months after Workers Online broke the story, in our July 23 edition, under the headline "Centrelink to Cheat Workers".

At the time, Andrews' department refused to comment on a Centrelink staffer's claim that job seekers, who said "no" to contracts that undercut negotiated wages or existing conditions, would lose their benefits.

Under current rules, job seekers or single parents who are "breached" can be stripped of their welfare payments for eight weeks.

Our source said that provision would be used to force beneficiaries into sub-standard jobs.

Andrews made it clear "Workchoices" would do exactly that.

Under his legislation, long-standing entitlements like four weeks annual leave, public holidays and penalty rates can be done away with by employers, through the use of non-union AWAs.

The federal government, through its Office of the Employment Advocate, has been aggressively promoting AWAs in preference to collective, negotiated agreements.

Back in July, Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, called on Andrews to come clean about his intention to cut welfare payments to people who chose not to sign below-par individual agreements.

The Minister sat on his hands for over three months, until the week before the legislation was due to be unveiled in Parliament.

Robertson said withholding benefits, on those grounds, would be a "significant step" toward the Americanisation of Australian society, based on a growing class of people recognised as the "working poor".


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