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Issue No. 289 11 November 2005  

The Great Repression
In a rare outbreak of candour in Federal Parliament this week we have seen the Prime Minister admit the five-day week is going out the door and his leader of business, Tony Abbott, blow kisses across the House.


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.


 Nobody Expects the Construction Inquisition

 Howard in Redundancy Raid

 States Sidestep Wage Hurdle

 Catholics Bless Day of Action

 PacNat Bids to Railroad Future

 Feds Authorise Invasion

 Howard Censors Workers

 Sol Plays Dumb Card

 Boycott Hangs Over Hardie

 Directile Dysfunction

 Pirates Face Kofi Break

 Miners Don’t Dig Safety Levy

 Keep the Spirit Alive

 Activist's What's On!


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

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

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

 Just AWBul
 Convict Costello
 We're Just Serfin'
 Take Warning
 Smells Familiar
 Howard's Gas
 Andrews' Operandi
 To the Shredder
 Stop Violence
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Howard in Redundancy Raid

The AMWU is moving to prevent John Howard stripping millions of away from 450 redundant Melbourne workers.

“Under John Howard’s new laws these people could lose most of their redundancy payments at a stroke of the company’s pen,” assistant Victorian secretary, Steve Dargavel, said.

"Our priority is to ensure that Silcraft doesn't use Howard's new laws to renege on its agreement."

Workplace laws, rammed through federal parliament last week, give employers the ability to back out of previously-binding agreements, on their expiry, by giving written notice. In those situations, employees revert to award minimum entitlements.

Under current laws, agreed terms and conditions, remain effective until they are superseded by a new agreement.

The problem for people at Silcraft is that their EBA expires in March but the company won't shut down operations until July.

For workers, who have up to 25 years service with the auto components company, that could mean the difference between an $80,000 payout and a maximum of eight weeks at award rates, around $6000.

"We are confident we will sort this out because there is good organisation on the job," Dargavel says. "But it is a reminder of one of the ways in which John Howard is trying to rip people off."

Silcraft announced, last week, it would close after 50 years of producing auto componentry. The first 80 people will be shown the door before Christmas and the remaining 370 will be out of work by mid-2006.

The firm cannot meet 20 percent "cost downs" demanded by major car companies who, increasingly, are sourcing parts from low-wage Asian countries.

The demise of the Mount Waverley plant follows the recent closures of Autoliv, and Calsonic, at the cost of more than a thousand jobs in the dwindling sector.

The AMWU is urging state and federal governments to adopt an industry policy to prevent the "de-industrialisation" of Australia.

"Over the last three years, this country has lost 14,000 jobs from the auto sector, alone, while the Howard Government has sat on its hands," national secretary, Doug Cameron said.

"Since the re-election of the Howard Government, last year, 800 fulltime manufacturing jobs have been lost every week.

"It is time the federal government did something to arrest the disastrous decline.

"The reason for these job losses is that Holden, Ford and Toyota have all awarded supply contracts to foreign countries, including China."

Cameron said Holden receives hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants each year but shows "zero loyalty" to Australian suppliers.


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