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Issue No. 288 04 November 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Terror Laws
It was poetic really, the WorkChoices legislation, all 1,000 plus pages of it, introduced into Federal Parliament this week under the cloak of terror.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Public Defender
The CPSU's Stephen Jones has confronted the Howard Government's IR agenda at close quarters.

Legal: Craig's Story
An inquest in western NSW is a cautionary tale of the use of AWAs, writes Ian Latham

Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
The WorkChoice legislation sends Australia down the wrong economic road by smashing the instittutions that have made it strong, argues Greg Combet.

Industrial: WhatChoice?
The Howard Government has shown itself to be the master of illusion, writes Dr Anthony Forsyth

Politics: Queue Jumping
The changes to industrial laws, betray a new vision of Australian society, writes James Gallaway.

History: Iron Heel
Conservative governments using laws to take away basic civil rights. It's nothing new, writes Rowan Cahill

Economics: Waging War
When was the last time you heard an Australian politician talk about incomes policy, asks Matt Thistlethwaite

International: Under Pressure
The push for UN intervention in Burma is intensifying, following a report by Vaclav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu into slave labour.

Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
More and more people are meeting Billy, the hero of page 15 of the WorkChoices booklet, including our resident bard, David Peetz

Review: A Pertinent Proposition
Nick Cave's "Australian western" touches on some themes still relevant today, Julianne Taverner writes.

N E W S

 D-Day For Political Rights

 Bosses In Sack Race

 “Choice” By Decree

 Howard Barges Into Workplace

 Della Grounds Boeing

 Wal-Mart Sees the Light

 Libs Chicken Out

 Shame Ships Filch Fish

 Multis Line Up to Cheer

 Feds in Dock

 Santoro Waves Red Rag

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Men and Women of Australia
What makes a perfect speech? Michael Fullilove has scoured Australian history to find out.

The Locker Room
The Hungry Years
Phil Doyle gets the feeling we’ve been here before

Culture
From Little Things
Paul Kelly's song about the battle for land rights misses one important character, writes Graham Ring

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at Public Private Partnerships, and wonders if we should all just drink rum…

L E T T E R S
 We're Next
 Australia, 2005
 Truth in Advertising
 Investment Advice
 What a Woman!
 It's Not Pretty
 Screwed
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Wal-Mart Sees the Light


Penny-pinching retailer Wal-Mart wants the US minimum wage increased, after discovering the low-paid can't afford to shop in its stores.

As thousands of Wal-Mart employees and former employees head to court over allegations of wage abuse, chief exec Lee Scott says the time has come for Congress to act.

"The US minimum wage of $US5.15 ($A6.80) an hour has not been raised in nearly a decade and we believe it is out of date with the times," Scott said in an address to employees.

"Our customers simply don't have the money to buy basic necessities between pay cheques."

Scott's comments came as a Missouri court gave approval for thousands of Wal-Mart workers to take class action against the company for wage abuse.

Employees claim the company forces them to work without pay and without breaks.

"Based on Wal-Mart's own data, it's abundantly clear they're forcing employees collectively to work many thousands of hours each month without pay," lead trial attorney Steve Long said.

Wal-Mart is notorious for its labour practices and opposition to unions.

Earlier this year the chain was accused of closing a Canadian store because workers joined a union.

Minimum Rates for Hurricane Jobs

Meanwhile a grass roots campaign by unions and community activists in the US has forced president George W. Bush to back down from moves to cut the pay of workers affected by a spate of hurricanes on the country's gulf coast region.

Last week Bush rescinded his executive order that suspended minimum wage protections for workers rebuilding many communities devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

The order, which now will expire Nov. 8, allowed contractors to pay substandard wages to construction workers.

activists sent more than 350,000 messages to politicians demanding fair wages be reinstated for the Gulf Coast, where skilled, full-time workers average less than $20,000 a year in pay.


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