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Issue No. 295 17 February 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Please Explain
It may become the defining irony of the Howard Era that a government that rode to power on the skirt of One Nation and hung there on the bridge of the Tampa is now opening our borders to hordes of low paid guest workers.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Local Jockey Odds Shorten

 Conscience II - RU4 Aussie Jobs?

 Online Porkies Spark Class Action

 Captain Cook Discovers WorkChoices

 Skippy's Escape Breaks Law

 PM's Pay Day

 STOP PRESS - 262 Day Strike Set To Finish

 Strike Sticks it to Glue Boss

 Fair Pay Chief Wages War

 Millionaires Score Tax Break

 Memo Costa: Remember Your Roots

 Gate Crashing Gourmet

 Australia Mum On Basic Rights

 Filipinos Pay for Packed House

 Son of Wal-Mart Pinged $2M

 Trust Me, I’m a Unionist

 Activist's Whats On!

C O L U M N S

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.

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

L E T T E R S
 AWB Kickbacks to Iraq
 The Black GST
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Online Porkies Spark Class Action


An email to workers claiming they would be no worse off under an individual contract has become the battleground in a landmark $16 million class action against the University of Ballarat.

Individual workers are suing the University for $33,000 each on the basis that they were provided 'false and misleading information' about the Australian Workplace Agreement.

Maurice Blackburn Cashman are running the case on behalf of an National Tertiary Education union member, Jeremy Smith, and several hundred other workers who were offered the contracts.

NTEU Victorian secretary Matthew McGowan, who is backing the action, says the case - due on court next week - is a new approach for unions in an environment where unions have fewer rights to enforce industrial agreements.

The approach has been masterminded by MBC partner Josh Bornstein, who was also the architect of the successful legal strategy in the 1998 Waterfront Dispute.

At the centre of the action is an email the University's Vice Chancellor Kerry Cox sent to employees last December claiming there would be no loss of conditions or job security for those who signed the AWAs being offered.

But the workers will argue the final contracts provided inferior redundancy entitlements for both academic and general staff, while almost all of the protections available to staff facing dismissal, suspension, or disciplinary action under the certified agreement have been removed.

The AWA also removed the ability for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to arbitrate disputes.

If successful, McGowan says the workers will argue that penalties of $33,000 for each breach of the federal workplace relations Act should go directly to the workers.


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