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Issue No. 294 10 February 2006  

Total Impact
The long hot summer, the calm before the storm, is finally passed; and as March 1 approaches the new world of work is looming and the extent of the attack on organised labour is becoming clear.


Interview: Court's in Session
As the silks line up to challenge WorkChoices, Jeff Shaw is fighting for his own legacy - the NSW IR system.

Industrial: Whose Choices?
The Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation has been dissected by lawyers and the commentariat; now it's the turn of political economists.

Politics: Peter's Principles
Forget John Howard. The force behind WorkChoices is Peter Costello. The Prime Minister-in-waiting has devoted a lifetime to undermining the security and living standards of Australian families, Jim Marr reports.

Environment: TINA or Greener?
What does the greenhouse effect and legislation to control workers have in common, asks Neale Towart

History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
Power. They have it, we want it. Friendly societies tried to keep it for working people, writes Neale Towart

International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
The US Government has refused to allow France's most famous farmer Jose Bove into the country to address a conference

Education: No AWA - No Job
The Howard Government has given the Australian community its first view of the future by forcing new staff at Ballarat University to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement if they want a job, writes Jenny Macklin.

Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
The writings of a Middle Eastern theologian may provide guidance to those grappling with indigenous issues, writes Graham Ring

Review: Charlie the Serf
Nathan Brown takes the sledgehammer (and sickle) to Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory.


 Capital Punishment on the Menu

 Della Builds Fortress NSW

 Unfair Sackings Face Challenge

 Slave Contractors Sprung

 Holden's Bad Deal for Adelaide

 ACCI Never Sleeps

 STOP PRESS: Guest Worker Plan Goes to Water

 Taking a Punt on Melbourne Cup

 Backlash on Job Cuts

 Howard Coy on Ad Orgy

 Newcastle Rails Against Contracts

 Union Man Eyes Cuts

 Free Enterprise Kills Hundreds

 Aussie Icon Moves to China

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Hitler in Bowral
Political censorship has made its wasy to the sleepy Southern Highlands, wrties Rowan Cahill.

The Locker Room
No Laughing Matter
Phil Doyle tries to take Australian sportspeople seriously, and fails.

The Westie Wing
Ian West is mistakenly sent an advance copy of John Winston Howard’s Little Blue Book of Australian History…

 The Best for the Best
 Belated Merry Whatmas?
 The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
 I Think Therefore I Scam
 A Taxing Answer
 Leslie John Turner
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ACCI Never Sleeps

Australia's skills crisis hasn't stopped big business coming up with a proposal to slash hundreds of dollars a week off the rates for senior nurses and trades people.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry unveiled its plan to compress nine lead pay scales, across industry, into one minimum rate to the federal government's award review taskforce, last week.

In a bid to head off wage cut fears, the Chamber suggested grand fathering clauses to protect current employees from its proposed cuts.

But its submission makes it clear that slashing wage rates is what it is about.

"A savings clause will ensure nominal or minima based changes cannot translate into any reduction of wages payable to existing employees," it says.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow says the plan would affect the earnings of around 800,000 Australians with the highest skilled categories looking at cuts of up to $400 a week.

Groups affected would include nurses, emergency service personnel, skilled trades people, senior civil servants, experienced teachers, engineers, chemists and IT workers.

Burrow said it was a "ridiculous" proposal when the Australian economy was trying to come to grips with skills shortages.

"It is not only grossly unfair but would encourage the de-skilling of the workforce at a time of chronic skills shortages," she said.

The ACCI urges a "safety net approach" on the taskforce and urges against any award review process that results in wage increases.

Under current award procedure, Australians are paid on one of 14 levels, based on skill and experience. The ACCI, head by former Peter Reith staffer, Peter Hendy, wants that slashed back to four minimum rates.

The Award Review Taskforce was established by WorkChoices legislation. It is scheduled to give its recommendation to the federal government next month.


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