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Issue No. 296 24 February 2006  

Sad Sacks
It has been a sad spectacle watching a Labor Government run down public servants, as they have in NSW this week.


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.


 Taskforce Shrugs Bashed Teen Worker

 Abattoir Blues

 Car Plant Puts Pedal to Metal

 Call Me Now: Rev Kev

 Fat Boss Sings

 Unions Back After This Break

 Public Cuts Must Be Last

 Apprentices Grow Up

 ‘Castle Win Keeps Trains On Track

 Chicken Worker Stuffed

 ‘Revolving Gangplank' at Sydney Ferries

 NSW Councils Short $21 billion

 Activists 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…

 Lest We Forget
 For Whom the Toll Bells
 Unfinished Business
 Labor Sells Hydro
 Stop the Hordes
 Packer Whacker
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Car Plant Puts Pedal to Metal

Manufacturing workers at a Melbourne car parts plant are the first victims of WorkChoices, with the employer revealing plans to slash wages by up to $200 a week.

According to a 41-point plan obtained by Workers Online, workers at Dana Car Parts could be stood down without pay if union members at another business took 'action(s).

The plan, proposing to slash existing workers' wages by five per cent, because "we don't believe what we paid for in the last EMB"; cuts new starters' pay by 20 per cent and cancel all rostered days off. This means a new employee on $50,000 a year would stand to lose $10,000 annually.

Two hundred workers protested outside the factory last week to show their anger at Dana's proposal.

AMWU National Secretary Doug Cameron told the workers that the proposal was a taste of what unscrupulous employers would try and get away with under the Howard Government's work laws.

"New staff would take five years to get to the current rate for other workers under this unacceptable proposal," Cameron said.

"There would also be restrictions on workers compensation, the removal of rostered days off, cuts to redundancy and long service leave, and the employer would get power to force workers to take holidays whenever they wanted."

The proposed wage cut is part of a 41-point plan unveiled by Dana in enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations.

Although there are no immediate plans for industrial action, workers warned it was possible if negotiations break down.

"The AMWU will not allow deals such as this to go through. Our members are united in their stance that wages and conditions will continue to rise not fall," Cameron said.

The Federal Government's Work Choices legislation is expected to come into force next month after passing through Parliament late last year.

The Work Choices legislation removes protection given to workers' conditions through things such as the award safety net and access to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

"Attacks like this are likely to be repeated at other workplaces many times over, but the cold hard reality of Work Choices cannot be allowed to continue past the next election", said Cameron.

"The strong demonstrations of opposition that were held last year must be continued. We must hold John Howard to account and we must never accept that this 'law of the jungle' is welcome in Australia.


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