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Issue No. 293 20 December 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Waves of Destruction
2005 was the year book-ended by two waves of destruction - the first causing untold suffering across the Indian Ocean; the second reawakening our darker angels on beaches closer to home.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Back to the Future
James Gallaway collars Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, on threats, challenges and opportunities.

Unions: A Real Page Turner
Jim Marr glances through Workers Online’s 2005 news stories and finds there is more one way to skin a Rat

Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
Rachael Osman-Chin profiles a white collar union that is having some almighty blues.

International: Around The World In 365 Days
It was a year of online activism, as LabourStart's Eric Lee reports

Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Jim Marr tackles a champion.

Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
The Your Rights At Work campaign has been a big part of this year and, as Phil Doyle reports, it is making a difference.

Politics: The Year That Was
Frank Stillwell looks at year that saw the politics of fear; and finds many reasons to be very afraid.

Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Evan Jones asks if the Neo Liberals are taking us back to the future

Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Nathan Brown ignores Oasis and decides to look back in anger after all

Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Nathan Brown digs through his voluminous dirt files and comes up with the top 10 grubs of the year.

Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
James Gallaway on the Way, the Truth and life according to Brian.

N E W S

 Melbourne Burns AWAs

 Corporates Defend Costello

 Speaker Won't Talk

 Bank Pays on Dodgy Contracts

 Plan to Save Jobs

 Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure

 It's Not Fair: Business

 Workers Walk As Warnings Wiped

 Teenager Hit With Shrapnel

 Pay Day “Unlawful”

 Tassie Rail Win

 Professionals Fear for Their Kids

 Boss Pings Rorters Charter

 New Ways to Take a Share

 An Hour of Need

 Boeing Steals Christmas

 Trouble at the Mill

 Activists What's On

C O L U M N S

Predictions
The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2006.

The Soapbox
The Things People Say
It was a year of quotable quotes, reports Phil Doyle.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West checks the rear vision mirror on 2005, and plants his foot down

The Locker Room
The 2005 Workers Online Sports Awards
After years of being overlooked by selectors at club, representative and national levels, Phil Doyle and Jim Marr, agreed to hand out our 2005 sports gongs.

Postcard
Postcard from East Timor
In East Timor entertainment also spreads an important message into the community

L E T T E R S
 Pension Pinching
 Free to Rat
 Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
 Proportion, Not Distortion
 Corp That!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Melbourne Burns AWAs


Eighteen Melbourne workers have kicked a big hole in John Howard's plan to deunionise Australia.

On Monday, December 19, their employer, Colrain, wrote to the Office of the Employment Advocate, asking that their AWAs be scrubbed.

After a short but bitter stand-off the operators of the truck parts distribution centre, a division of Maxitrans, agreed to meet the AMWU about a collective agreement, and the 18 workers returned to the job.

Their two-week picket at Swan Drive, in Melbourne's west, had been marred by the use of scabs and violence.

Union organiser, Fergal Eliffe, was threatened by baseball bat wielding thugs, and, last week, a picketer was struck by a car.

"It's a matter of putting the relationship back together," Eliffe told Workers Online. "There are more civilised and efficient ways of sorting out wages and conditions and that's the road we've agreed to take.

"With goodwill, we are confident we can get a decent agreement for these people, and their families, in the next few weeks."

The landmark rolling of AWAs, at the heart of "Workchoices", began when Colrain employees rang the AMWU to say they had didn't like the individual contracts they had been forced to sign.

A check with the OEA, revealed the documents were still waiting for its rubber stamp. The AMWU moved, serving notice of a bargaining period.

"Colrain refused to sit down and talk. They said they would deal with each employee individually. We told them we could save them the bother, and free up their time to run the business, but they wouldn't listen," Eliffe said.

Workers then gave notice of protected action but when one of them refused to do data entry, he was stood down, provoking workmates to leave in solidarity.

The company called in replacement labour but, last Monday, agreed to contact the OEA and terminate its application to have the individual contracts registered.

The dispute blows apart Howard Government claims that AWAs are about "choice", and calls into question the motivation for its scrapping of the 14-day cooling off period before Australians can have their working lives regulated, for up to five years, by non-negotiated contracts.


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