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Issue No. 305 05 May 2006  

Contract With Australia
If WorkChoices is the legislative expression of the Howard Government’s ideological hatred of unions, the Independent Contractors Act is the product of an altogether more dangerous form of ideological zealotry.


Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Reverend Jim Wallis is leading a crusade to take the moral debate into the public arena.

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Government has begun a series of workshops to sell its WorkChoice vsision. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Lockout!
Jim Comerford’s eyewitness account of the 15-month Lockout of 10,000 New South Wales miners in1929-1930 records the inside story of Australia’s most bloody and bitter industrial conflict

Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Professor Ron McCallum argues the WorkChoices laws are built on a fundamental fiction.

Politics: Labor Pains
Labor has dealt itself out of the crucial workplace relations debate by failing to articulate a credible policy alternative to Howard’s new WorkChoices legislation, argues Mark Heearn and Grant Michelson

Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Evan Jones pays tribute to John Kenneth Galbraith, a big man who never stopped arguing that economics should serve the public good, not create public squalor.

Corporate: House of Horrors
Anthony Keenan takes a tour of Sydney’s notorious, Asbestos House, courtesy of Gideon Haig.

History: Clash Of Cultures
Neale Towart with a new take on Mayday through the words of a punk icon

International: Childs Play
An ILO report into Child Labour shows some progress is being made to curb this gobal scurge .

Culture: Folk You Mate!
Phil Doyle dodges Morris Dancers to find signs of Working Life at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter Weekend.

Review: Last Holeproof Hero
Finally, a superhero who has worked out how to wear his underpants. Nathan Brown ogles V for Vendetta


 Andrews Axes Safety

 Plant Fission for Cost Savings

 Spotless Bosses Blame Howard

 Aussie Bushman Pronounced Dead

 Who's Smirking Now?

 Yellow Bosses See Red

 Amber Light on Howard's Way

 Secret Police Spook Mum

 Wally Pollies Set for Cracker

 Qantas to Parachute In Pilots

 Unmask the Puppeteers, Union Demands

 Cleaners Mop Up

 Cane Toads Hop Into Johnny

 King of Onkaparinga Cries Poor

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Albo's Meltdown
Labor's environment spokesman Antony Albanese argues that Chrernobyl is one reason why the ALP should stand firm on nuclear.

The Locker Room
A Sort Of Homecoming
Phil Doyle plays to the whistle.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West reports from Macquarie Street on some strange collective acction.

 Restaurant a Rip Off
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Amber Light on Howard's Way

Incomes slashed 33 percent, five year wage freezes, and disputes resolved by the boss' paid agent - the reality of John Howard's flexible workplace has been laid bare by a Sydney sparkie and his 16-year-old daughter.

Forget the claims and counter-claims of politicians and paid union officials. The truth of the Workchoices pudding is in the eating and for Narrabeen Sports High teenager, Amber Oswald, it tasted foul.

She, and her disgusted father, Phil, left the spin at the door of Unions NSW, and furnished delegates with the truth of what AWAs meant to Amber and youngsters like her.

Pow Juice, in Warriewood Square, dropped a take-it or leave-it AWA on the 16-year-old that slashed her weekly earnings from $97 to $65 overnight. Her Sunday rate plummeted from the award specified $14.27 an hour to $8.57.

"We had a meeting on Monday and on Wednesday they told me my wages had dropped from $97 to $65," Amber explained.

Her father went to the heart of AWA argument, explaining key elements of the document Amber had been ordered to sign.

The AWA, he said:

- cut hourly rates back to $8.57

- stripped penal rates for Saturdays and Sundays

- lasted five years, with no wage adjustments during that period

- referred workplace disputes to the private agency that drew up the AWAs for the company

Finally, he said, the AWA contained a clause stating that bringing bad publicity to the company would result in dismissal.

Phil Oswald said there was "no way" that he or Amber could have understood the 15-page document without help.

He said a Pow Juice manager had revealed the truth about AWAs, in media statements during the dispute.

Famously, he told a Sydney radio audience: "It's not about what's fair, it's about what's good for the company".

"I am so proud to be Amber's father because she has shown concern, not just for herself, but for her workmates as well," Phil Oswald said.

"I appeal to other young workers to come forward and bring this shocking treatment of our kids to light."

The SDA won Amber a stay of execution when the Australian Industrial Relations Commission ordered Pow Juice to pay her, and others who had refused to sign AWAs, their original rates.

SDA assistant secretary, Bernie Smith, said that only occurred because the company had bungled its AWAs, if it had got the paperwork right, there was nothing that could have been done under Howard's new IR regime.

In shades of the 1998 waterfront dispute, the juice company went into liquidation on the eve of WorkChoices coming into operation. The same day, as Pow, it offered staff AWAs that undercut award wages and conditions.

In another extraordinary development, a clearly embarrassed company director, Cherily Coad, denied being Cherily Coad, when approached by the Sydney Morning Herald after she was identified by employees.

Amber Oswald told Unions NSW, since the IRC ruling, her manager had been instructed to cut her out of Sunday work.


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