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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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Joyce A Christmas Goose

Backdown Barnaby Joyce has given Christmas the finger, delivering bosses all the excuses they need to force Aussies to work on public holidays.

If that wasn’t enough, Barnaby’s Rules slam the door on speedy redress for people who feel they might still have been dudded.

Where an employer plays hardball, people wrongly denied time with their families, can only gain redress through expensive court action.

Joyce used his crucial Senate vote to bring the axe down on state and federal Industrial Relations Commissions as affordable avenues for the resolution of any workplace dispute.

The Queensland National's bid to "save Christmas" ended in farce when he green-lighted a dozen criteria for determining whether or not it was "reasonable" to refuse work on Christmas Day, Anzac Day, Good Friday or four other national statutory holidays.

Only two of those reasons go to the worker's situation - "the employee's reasons for refusing the request" and "the employee's personal circumstances (including family responsibilities)".

Most of the rest are outs business can use to refuse an employee's wish for a day off. These include:

- the nature of the work performed

- the nature of the employer's workplace or enterprise (including its operational requirements)

- whether an agreement, award, industrial instrument, contract, written guideline or policy "contemplates" that the employer "might" require work on public holidays

- whether an employee could reasonably expect the employer "might" require work on public holidays

- the amount of notice given by the employer

- the amount of notice given by the employee in refusing to work

- whether an emergency or other unforseen circumstances are involved

Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said, whatever else Joyce had achieved, he had not delivered any "right" to spend holidays with families.

"All the onus of proof, in this amendment, is on the employee," Robertson said. "And paying to take an argument over an entitlement to one day off to the Federal Court, will be impractical for nearly everybody.

"Sadly, what we appear to have ended up with, is another kick in the guts for family and community."

Joyce, who earlier this year dogged on an election promise not to support the sale of the public's 51 percent holding in Telstra, turned his back on a petition signed by more than 80,000 workers, in the space of three days, to back big-business' WorkChoices agenda.

In fact, when he spoke in Parliament on the issue for the first time, last week, he sounded more aggressively anti-worker than many Liberals.

"The unrepresentative and bullying days of unions are over and the funding mechanism for the Australian Labor Party is ending," Joyce crowed.

"The whole farce of open ballots, antagonisation (sic) and standovers at the workplace is a dead or dying artform and it is great to preside over the end of those bitter days."


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