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Issue No. 289 11 November 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

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

 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!

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
 Just AWBul
 Convict Costello
 We're Just Serfin'
 Take Warning
 Smells Familiar
 Howard's Gas
 Andrews' Operandi
 To the Shredder
 Stop Violence
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

States Sidestep Wage Hurdle


In a bid to beat federal government's destruction of the minimum wage, unions have filed a four percent wage claim for those workers who will remain on state awards.

In a move coordinated nationally, peak union bodies launched the bid in all states, except Victoria where the Kennet Government gave up workers to the Commonwealth in the nineties.

The plan is to pressure the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to hear one more claim before its powers are absorbed by the Australian Fair Pay (sic) Commission.

But even if this fails, unions are determined to keep real wages stable for the 25 per cent of workers who will not be immediately captured in the federal takeover.

If successful, the claim will add $19.30 to the minimum wage of $484.00 for all workers and will take affect from August 2006.

Announcing the NSW claim, Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said the increase would cover 400,000 workers employed on minimum rates within state awards in retail, hospitality and clerical industries, ensuring a wage increase that will meet increasing living costs such as petrol prices.

The claim does not apply to workers covered by the Howard Government's federal industrial relations system.

"We owe it to the most vulnerable members of our society to do this. These are the people who will be the most exploited under the new system," Mr Robertson said.

"It will be 18 months before the Fair Pay Commission is able to deal with this issue," he said.

"Then, when the claim is finally heard, it will be by a team of government-appointed economists, not an independent industrial umpire," he said.

"Our claim aims to make sure that workers employed under the NSW system are not left out in the cold - they are losing enough rights without having their real wage reduced as well," he said.

"Usually State Wage Cases flow on from national decisions, but we're not confident that the Federal Commission will have a chance to deal with this issue," he said.

"The Howard Government's 'No Choices' legislation will mean that minimum wage workers will not receive any sort of wage review for at least 18 months," he said.


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