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Issue No. 292 02 December 2005  

A Free Vote
This week’s charade of the Senate amending the Howard Government’s workplace laws raises fundamental questions about the sort of democracy Australia has become.


Interview: The Binds That Tie
Dr Don Edgar has demolished the Prime Minister's credentials as a family man.

Unions: Worth Cycling For
Pedal power joined the Your Rights At Work campaign on a 350km journey to take a message to Canberra’s politicians, wrties Phil Doyle.

Industrial: The Elephant in the Corner
Jim Marr takes a look at what the government has secreted away in the WorkChoices package, revealing what is really at stake - and what can be done about it.

Legal: A Law Unto Themselves
In this extract from the Evatt Foundation's 'State of the States' Jeff Shaw & Monika Ciolek look at the constitutional issues rasied by WorkChoices.

Politics: Ethically Lonely
At a forum in the Australian Stock Exchange sponsored by big end of town solicitors, you would expect at least one person to be in favour of John Howard’s industrial relations laws, wrties Rachael Osman-Chin.

History: Women, Unions, Banners and Parades
Trade union banners reveal more about union history than their male designers and makers intended, writes Neale Towart.

Women: Relaxed and Comfortable?
Suzanne Hammond from WEL argues there are many hidden nasties in WorkChoices for working women.

International: The Last Social Democrat
A trade union leader's victory marks beginning of class politics in Israel, wrties Eric Lee

Review: The Corpse Bride
Come to a world where decay, loss and broken dreams are everywhere - and it's not the Federal Senate.

Culture: Tony Moore Holds His Own
In his new book, Tony Moore argues that today's generation of political leaders has much to learn from Bazza McKenzie.


 Read His Lips: WorkChoices Too Much

 Joyce A Christmas Goose

 Workers Leave Boss in Tool Shed

 Costello Chokes On Asbestos Compo

 Telstra Hangs Up on Former Staff

 Bank Check on Bras

 Bill of Work Rights on Agenda

 Funny Film - Scary Message

 Sign Of the Times

 Unions Chip In for Lauren

 Company Raids Own Ship

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Whitefellas - You Just Can’t Trust ‘Em.
Racial stereotyping is a bad business. That said, Graham Ring has discovered a segment of society that drinks too much, behaves unreliably and can’t seem to adapt to change. Sadly, the conclusion is inescapable…

The Locker Room
Phil Doyle slices one into the car park.

The Westie Wing
Ian West makes a midnight dash to Workers Online, slides his State political report under the door, then heads back to the Macquarie Street Chamber of Horrors…

 Million Mum March
 Pension Pinching
 John Bares All
 Radicalising Yoof
 Tom A World Away
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Letters to the Editor

Pension Pinching

AUSTRALIA'S 3.5 million pensioners stand to have increases to their allowances cut as a result of the Coalition Government's controversial new industrial relations reforms.

Not only does the Australian Government want to abolish basic working conditions, they also intend removing the power of the Industrial Relations Commission to set the minimum wage. This is not only bad for paid workers; it is also detrimental to pensioners.

The pension in Australia is calculated according to the Social Security Act, 1991.

The Base Pension (ie. not the pension supplement) is indexed twice yearly based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) but is also benchmarked against Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) at 25%.

March, 2005 this year was the last time the pension went up.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes the CPI quarterly. The Base Pension is then increased by the percentage change in the CPI over a six month period.

The new CPI indexed amount was then compared with the latest MTAWE figure.

As in previous years, if the new CPI indexed amount was less than 25 percent of MTAWE, an extra amount is added to the base single pension so that it is at least 25% of MTAWE.

The MTAWE figure includes the earnings of men on the minimum or junior wages as well as higher paid workers.

The Australian Government wants to take the minimum wage setting powers away from the Industrial Relations Commission and give them to it‚s handpicked Fair Pay Commission. We can only wait to see how much of an oxymoron this name becomes. The American equivalent hasn't increased their minimum wage since 1998.

The Fair Pay Commission will make it‚s first minimum wage decision in late 2006, and the implementation of this pay rise adjustment‚ could be delayed even longer.

The incumbent Australian Government, considers the minimum wage too high: it wants to take penalty rates out of awards. This will mean a catastrophic drop in wages for shift workers.

Naturally prices will continue to go up including the basic necessities of life (because of petrol prices of which more than 33% goes to the Government in tax).

When the MTAWE goes down so will pensions. This will mean pensioners will have difficulty paying skyrocketing bills for essentials such as food, housing transport and health services. One must ask how are people going to save up enough in superannuation to afford a decent retirement?

The proposed industrial relations changes are unjust, regressive and will guarantee greater inequality. The pension will be eroded in real terms relative to prices.

The IR changes must be opposed to prevent looming impoverishment of wage earners (the working poor will be a reality) and people on fixed incomes (pensions).

After 14 years of prosperity this is what we get offered. These changes must be opposed. If you are not happy with these IR changes, lobby your local Federal member.

Mike Hudson, NSW


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