||Issue No. 287||28 October 2005|
A Sick Set of Laws
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
PM's Fatal Flush
Sign of the Times
Labor's Love Lost
Dole Bludgeoning - Andrews Comes Clean
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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