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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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The $130 Question: What is He On?

Kevin Andrews is hailing an arrangement that allows people to be paid $130 a week less than colleagues on a union agreement, at the same site, as “good news” for workers.

The WorkChoices Minister made the claim to industry newsletter, Workforce, in defence of the country's first “greenfields agreement”.

The radical concept, introduced by Andrews, allows employers on new projects to negotiate terms and conditions with themselves but register them as "agreements".

Employees must accept all conditions and are not allowed to agitate or take industrial action over anything they disagree with, for 12 months, by which time many projects will have finished.

CFMEU legal officer, Tim Kuchera, explained how John Holland went about using Workchoices to impose the first greenfields "agreement" at BHP Billiton's Pilbara port expansion.

"They were written for big construction projects because those employers find AWAs an administrative nightmare," Kuchera said.

"Under a greenfields agreement the employer lays down all the terms and conditions, as with an AWA, but he doesn't have to pretend to get individual agreement.

"John Holland came to us and said they wanted an agreement. Three days before it was due they went behind our backs and registered this deal.

"The first we knew about it was when we read it in the West Australian.

"Not only does this legislation deny construction workers any say in their terms and conditions but it encourages bad faith bargaining."

John Holland has the construction contract for the Port Hedland expansion, while Monadelphous Engineering has the mechanical contract.

Within day of Andrews spruiking the John Holland "agreement", the CFMEU and AMWU had both completed union agreements with Monadelphous.

Under the terms of those settlements, crane drivers will be $90 a week better off than under John Holland's arrangements, while riggers will be paid $130 more.

It is understood that, despite Andrews' endorsement of its original position, John Holland will fall into line with Monadelphous rates.

Because it has a greenfields "agreement", however, Kuchera points out, it can bar union officials from entering the site and call on the Australian Building and Construction Commission to prosecute any union that tries to service members there .


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