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Issue No. 303 21 April 2006  

Brand Spanking
It took the Easter Bunny, a couple of diplomatic crises and a bit of classic Howard wedge politics to shift industrial relations off the front pages, but if you think the story is over, forget it.


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 Ain’t Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourne’s 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.


 Costello Plans Super Swindle

 Control Freak Turns Hand to AWAs

 ‘Clean Start’ Sweeps Into Action

 Fleas Leave Andrews Scratching

 The $130 Question: What is He On?

 Howard Stings Liberal Mum

 Apprentices Assume Missionary Position

 $80,000 for Friendly Act

 David Phoenix Rises Again

 Rights At Work Worth Playing For

 Qantas Sackings Grounded

 Eight Hours Play

 TWU Boss Gaoled

 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.

 Say No To Optus
 Lying Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them II
 What Tax Cuts?
 Belly Says It’s Time
 A Word Of Warning Stop
 Mexican Revolution
 Well That Clears That Up Then
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‘Clean Start’ Sweeps Into Action

‘Invisible armies’ of cleaners, forced to work three time faster than their American colleagues, are now mopping up their own industry.

They are turning the blowtorch on the owners of the office blocks, pressuring them to keep tenants happy by ending the race to the bottom by cutting wages and increasing workloads.

The 'Clean Start' campaign was kicked off around Australian and New Zealand this week by the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneouos Workers Union and the Service and Food Workers Union.

It comes at a critical time for cleaners, as basic wages are under threat by WorkChoices and workloads are intensifying, with the Australian benchmark now at 1,000 square metres per hour - compared with the North American standard of 300-400 square metres per hour.

Under the Clean Start plan, instead of targeting direct employers - who are squeezed by competitors - unions are seeking agreement on minimum standards for the entire industry.

This means getting the top end of town commercial property owners like GPT, Mirvac and Macquarie to only award contracts to companies that respect:

- basic wages

- health and safety standards

- and the right to organise.

The unions argue that these sorts of standards are ultimately in the interests of the property companies - with the quality of office cleaning one of the key issues for tenants.

The campaign has the backing of religious leaders and community identities including Canberra Raiders captain Clinton Schifcofske.

Schifcofske told 180 rallying cleaners in Canberra sticking together applied as much to the workplace as the football field.

In Sydney, former cleaner Rakchanok Sothanaphasian told her story of going two months unpaid when she started work.

The Thai-born union organiser said when she came to Australia, like many immigrant workers she was unaware of her rights. "When you are from a non-English speaking background its hard," Sothanaphasian said.



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