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Issue No. 300 24 March 2006  

Of Milestones and Millstones
Three hundred issues ago, in February 1999, Workers Online published its first edition, with the following promise: “to bring you news and views in the traditions of the workers press of yesteryear, but with our eyes firmly on the future.”


Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Post’s dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameron’s demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howard’s Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a ‘cultural museum’.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.


 Coonan Practises Her ABC

 Mr Andrews Decrees

 Year Zero Set for Monday

 Secret Police Visit Workers

 PacNat Back On Track

 Print Bosses Finger the Bush

 Whinger Draws Fire

 National IT Win

 RailCorp Shtum On Asbestos Stations

 Deaf Bank Pinged $145,000

 Phantom AWA of the Opera

 Crane Company Hooks Workers

 Umpire: Dump Contractors Now

 Lift Companies Promote Falls

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Henderson’s unique take on history

Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe

 Bully for Us
 Onya, Pete!
 Blind Johnny
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Year Zero Set for Monday

Australians trying to protect safety and living standards have been pitched back to “Year Zero” by WorkChoices regulations.

Dozens of disputes, legally pursued under Howard Government laws, will become illegal today (Monday) and go on ice, for at least eight weeks, while affected workers are put through a series of bureaucratic and legal hoops.

One of the first beneficiaries will be Howard Government backer and WorkChoices promoter, Geoff Dixon, whose airline, Qantas, is trying to claw thousands of dollars out of family incomes, and send skilled Aussie jobs offshore.

Angry maintenance workers protested at Melbourne and Sydney airports, last Friday, when they learned they would have to go back to square one to protect themselves and their unions from massive fines.

AMWU national president, Julius Roe, called the legislation "extraordinary" and "hypocritical".

"Our people have been fighting this campaign, industrially, for three weeks. They have dotted the i's and crossed the t's to satisfy federal law," Roe said.

"With a stroke of a pen, the Minister has changed those rules, midstream.

"It's extraordinary legislation because it purports to treat industrial matters as corporate matters, under corporations law.

"It's totally hypocritical because, in its treatment of workers, it ignores the basic safeguards applied to corporations.

"If a corporation enters into a contract, it is binding and can't be altered. Under this law an employer can sign a contract one day and is encouraged to undercut it, the next, by using an AWA.

"Under corporate, and criminal law, when new legislation is passed, part-heard matters continue under the rules they started under. We are part way through important campaigns and the rules have been changed, with seven days notice."

Qantas is just one of dozens of workplaces around the country, where Australians resisting employer offensives, will be forced to abandon legal industrial campaigns by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews.

Roe pointed to Melbourne's lift operators strike, into its fourth week in an effort to halt $120 wage cuts, and EBA action at Portland Aluminium and Preston Motors as others that would be immediately curtailed.

He revealed that the sudden change of regime, imposed by Andrews, would almost certainly cost trades apprentices $50 a week.

The increase was won by the AMWU, before the AIRC in a bid to stem the nation's damaging skills decline, and was to have been flowed onto awards across the trades.

However, under Andrews regulations, those awards lapse and, worse still Roe says, there is no alternative vehicle to see the decision applied to thousands of young trades people.

Meanwhile, Qantas negotiator Glenn Thompson, says the airline and the Minister shouldn't start counting their chickens, just yet.

"It's frustrating and it's unfair but we are used to that," Thompson said.

"They have tried to hamstring us industrially but they can't hamstring us in the community.

"Australian people know the score on skilled jobs and safety. They expect unions to campaign on those issues and they won't be disappointed."


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