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Issue No. 302 07 April 2006  

The Cowra Clause
The plight of the Cowra meatworkers is a fitting illustration of the way the new industrial laws will fundamentally shift the balance of relations in the Australian workplace.


Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ainít Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourneís Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.


 Abattoir Boss Slaughters Andrews

 More Slaughter in South Australia

 Pickets Won't Face Cannon

 Teens Win Thousands

 Praise the Laws

 Where The Bloody Hell Is Our Contract?

 Building Crusade Raids Pockets

 Workers Shows Its Hand

 It's All Yellow, Mine Barons

 Lismore Nine Breaks Ranks

 Uber Bosses Clean Up

 Howard's Skills Solution: Sack Apprentices

 Spineless Companies Block Safety

 Boxall in Sickie Backflip

 Activist's What's On!


Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.

 Crap TV
 Social Action
 French revolution
 Fan Mail
 Belly Spreads The Word
 All Out!
 Lying Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
 Help Wanted
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Abattoir Boss Slaughters Andrews

The owner of the meat works at the centre of the first national WorkChoice showdown has conceded he backed down because of union negotiations, not the Howard Governmentís new inspectors.

A letter written to 29 workers on Thursday withdrawing their terminations directly refutes claims made by federal workplace relations minister Kevin Andrews 24 hours earlier that he had solved the dispute.

The manager of the Cowra Abattoir, Ray Petterson, told meatworkers that the decision to withdraw the notices of termination had "nothing to do with the government".

In a letter to the meat workers union on Wednesday, Petterson said he would "withdraw the notice of termination" as "a show of good faith" because "union officials have indicated that they are prepared to enter into further negotiations".

When the WorkChoices Minister told a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday that 29 sacked meatworkers would get their jobs back following an investigation by the OWS it was news to both the company and the workers.

"When Andrews announced the notices of termination would be withdrawn it was the first we had heard of it," said Charlie Donzow from the Meatworkers Union. "We were stunned.

"We were in meetings with the company that day and at no time did they indicate that they would withdraw the notices of termination.

"On the Wednesday they [Cowra Abattoir] told us that they hadn't indicated their decision to the government."

The timing of Andrews' maiden attempt to defend Australian jobs has been portrayed as a desperate ploy to disguise the real intent of WorkChoices.

Both the Prime Minister, and Andrews, were on the public record denying that their legislation allowed companies to sack workers and rehire them on inferior wages and conditions - precisely what the abattoir proposed.

The Australian described Andrews' reaction as "red-faced" and industrial lawyers backed union accusations that the Cowra manoeuvre was exactly what WorkChoices green-lighted.

Anthony Longland, a partner at law firm Freehills which helped draft WorkChoices, told a conference on March 23 that protected conditions under the new laws were "smoke and mirrors" and that employees were "protected but not protected".

ACTU secretary Greg Combet said the comments confirmed unions' fears about the new laws.

"This is exactly what the ACTU has been saying from the outset, we've been accused of running a scare campaign, accused of trying to elevate unnecessary concerns about these laws, but here we have a partner of the firm who helped write the laws saying exactly what we have been putting.

The 29 meatworkers had been sacked and invited to re-apply to the abattoir for 20 jobs on new employment contracts that involved pay cuts of up to $180 a week.

Combet said it was good news that the workers would get their jobs back but The fact remained that it was legal to act as the company had done.

Andrews claimed the company had backed down after pressure from his Office of Workplace Services, saying it was evidence that employees were protected.


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