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Issue No. 304 28 April 2006  

Canaries in the Coalmine
It was one of the defining symbols of the industrial era and the tenuous nature of working life – the bird in the cage whose expiration was a miner’s early warning that things were not OK.


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.


 Hit Run Mum Bats For Son

 Revealed: Bosses Told To Blame Howard

 Amber Light for Pay Cuts

 Andrews Backs Armed Hold Ups

 New Front on High Court Attack

 Homer Takes Rights to India

 Tunnel Vision a “Disgrace”

 Mining Vigil at Day of Mourning

 Dad's Death Revisited

 Canberra Confidential, Andrews on the Run

 Rock Solid Tony For Sale

 SA Boss Not Trusted With Kids

 Army Declares War On Workers

 Unions Take On Space Invaders

 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.

 Win in the Post
 Belly Battles
 Answer is Easy
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Amber Light for Pay Cuts

The Sydney teenager who blew a whistle on AWAs has won the pay that was taken from her, but her union has warned the employer could have got away with it with good advice.

After winning an AIRC hearing forcing a juice bar to repay the funds, SDA assistant state secretary Bernie Smith conceded it was only the 'ineptitude' of the employer's consultant that had opened the way for the legal challenge.

The Commissioner ruled that Amber Oswald and her colleagues would retain penalty rates and shift loadings offered under a collective agreement that had been stripped under an AWA, because she had never actually signed the document.

While celebrating Amber's victory, Smith warned that if the employer had received good advice on using WorkChoices, he would have got away with the pay cut.

"The truly sad thing is that under the new laws if they [Pulp] had carried out their plan properly this Commission would have no jurisdiction," he told the AIRC. "This is despite the obvious disadvantage Amber would have suffered."

Objectionable Display

In a fiery hearing, the employment consultant, Ei Legal's Ben Thompson, was monstered by Commissioner Peter Lawson after he claimed that Amber's fight for justice was just a 'media beat-up'.

During the case Thompson was threatened with contempt and the right to appear before the Commission; with Commissioner Lawson saying Thompson's behaviour was "probably the most objectionable" he'd seen before the AIRC in "many, many years".

Thompson had deliberately tried to "railroad" a proper application to the AIRC for assistance, he said, and warned him that his conduct hadn't assisted his client's case. Commissioner Lawson also criticised the employer's Andre Dowling, saying he had provided "misinformation" to the Commission.

Amber's father, Phil Oswald, told Workers Online that WorkChoices would force young workers and parents to be lawyers if they were to understand their workplace agreements.

"The new owner is now madly running around trying to get his employees onto new AWAs," says Oswald. "These new agreements refer to the legislation. Now, who is going to look them up? Have you seen how thick the laws are?

"How is that going to make it simpler for the average worker?"


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