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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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PacNat Bids to Railroad Future

Railworkers are standing up to Pacific National's insistence that it be allowed to strip money from the pockets of future generations.

Pacific National negotiators have told RTBU reps the push to dud new starters is not an issue of cost but rather one of “philosophy”.

Workers in four states will walk off the job for two days next week over moves to strip wages for new starters under an agreement being pushed by the rail giant.

The action comes after PacNat lawyers used technicalities to block three earlier attempts to stop work over a new agreement, to the point where 60% of the rail operators 2000 strong workforce pledged in writing to reject the company's offer.

Pacific National is seeking a three tiered system for maintaining wage levels that would effectively amount to a pay cut for employees that are re-classified in the future.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union has said company's view is as long it is the future employees who are affected the most, the RTBU should not be resistant.

"There will be few safeguards, if any, to prevent the company from re-classifying employees en-masse to suit their agenda," says RTBU national secretary Bob Hayden.

The RTBU recently surveyed to members asking whether or not they would vote for a non-union Enterprise Agreement. Members were given three days to return the survey. Of nearly 2000 employees, over 1200 responded, with only three saying they would vote for an agreement not supported by the RTBU.

"The message should be loud and clear for the management of Pacific National," says Hayden. "The membership has clearly stated that they do not believe that what the company has on the table is acceptable.

"Earlier this year Pacific National announced a 9 month net after tax profit of $78 million, a 39% increase from the previous 9 months.

"The success of Pacific National is as a result of the efforts of workers and they should be entitled to benefit from the success of the company."

The RTBU has exempted passenger services pulled by Pacific National locomotives from next week's industrial action.


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