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Issue No. 290 18 November 2005  

The Long March
Half a million Australian workers turn out for the largest industrial protests the nation has ever seen, an old style symbol of resistance linked by new world technology, opposing laws from another galaxy.


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.


 Aussies Shrug Off Threats

 PM Executes Back Flip

 National Rally Boosts Local Action

 Restaurateurs Do a Runner

 St Hilliers No Angels

 Penalties Frozen on Sundaes

 Slammer Threat for Operators

 Sunday Light on IR Shadows

 Sol Dials Up 12,000 Scalps

 Boss Likes Women 'Work-Hardened'

 Bread Winner on $9 an Hour

 King Goes the Gouge

 Jo Jacks Up

 Currawong Funds for IR Battle

 Howard Joins IR Rogues

 Arnie Terminated

 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…

 Driven to despair
 What lucky country
 Swimming with Sharks
 Save Our Culture
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Jo Jacks Up

Jo Jacobson is not normally fussed about politics but last week she found her herself addressing a protest rally.

"I've never been politically active before," she says. "I've never been part of a political party or particularly politically aware."

The mother of one and part time manager of a Penrith day care centre addressed a Nov 15 Day of Action meeting.

"I'll be going from middle class with pretty good money to working class, which will be a full on struggle despite my tertiary qualifications," says Jacobson about the new laws.

And out in Glen Innes in outback NSW, electricity linesman Phil Shannon watched over 100 people turn up for the biggest thing he has ever organised.

"Even a couple of retirees turned up asking if it was OK for them to join in," he says.

Both have been kicked into action by the threat Howard's new IR laws poise for them and their communities.

"Only two people turned around and said Howard was doing a good job," says Shannon of the day a week or so before the November 15 telecast when he handed out over 200 pamphlets about the new laws, adding the next time he organises such a protect he better use the RSL rather than the local tavern.

"Four months ago no one knew what industrial relations was," says Jacobson. "I've been very lucky in that with all of my jobs I have been protected by an award and had very good conditions. I have never needed to be a member of a union."

"Unfortunately not many people are knowledgeable about their awards either."

Despite widespread interest in the Sky Channel hook up, Shannon says quite a few people in his town were actively discouraged from attending.

"A boss from the RTA stuck his head in just to see who was there," he says, adding that one young female worker at the local hospital received a letter warning her not to attend and the local council only allowed a handful of its employees to go.

But as he and Jacobson have discovered, a lot of people still don't want to believe the big changes around the corner will affect them.

"A lot of people don't understand it and they don't want to," says Jacobson. "You say this will affect everyone and they look at you with this incredulous look."

"I have talked to kids who work at BiLo and KFC," says Shannon. "They tell me it doesn't affect them because they are only going to have these minimum wage jobs until they finish school. But I say to them, look, these changes are going to kick in once you are at university. They don't really understand as they are new to the workforce."

"People are busy with their work and families," says Jacobson. "They think they are going to be OK, particularly when you have got Government information packages saying 'Protected By Law'."

"I've told my in-laws about how the changes will effect the pension," says says. "Once the IR laws change, they will not have the increase you have had in the last nine years. History has shown that if Liberal governments had had their way you would be $50 a week worse off. This is what is going to happen with the Fair Pay Commission."


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