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Issue No. 309 02 June 2006  

When the Truth Hurts
Some rare moments of candour this week have vindicated all we�ve been saying about WorkChoices and more.


Interview: Rock Solid
Bill Shorten gives the inside story on the Australian Workers Union's involvement in the Beaconsfield rescue.

Industrial: Eight Simple Rules for Employing My Teenage Daughter
Phil Oswald bought up his kids to believe in their rights; so when his 16-year old daughter was told to cop a pay cut she was never going to take it quietly.

Politics: The Johnnie Code
WorkChoices is encrypted deep in the PM's political DNA, writes Evan Jones

Energy: Fission Fantasies
Adam Ma�anit looks at the big business push behind the 'clean nuclear' debate that is sweeping the globe.

History: All The Way With Clarrie O'Shea
The WorkChoices Penal Powers are the latest in a long line of penal sanctions against trade unions, writes Neale Towart

International: Closer to Home
If Australia can forgive its debt to Iraq, why not to Indonesia and the Philippines, write Luke Fletcher and Karen Iles

Economics: Taking the Fizz
While the Treasurer has been popping the post-Budget champers, Frank Stilwell gives a more sober assessment.

Unions: Stronger Together
Amanada Tattersall looks at the possibilities of strengthening alliances between unions, environmental and community organisations

Review: Montezuma's Revenge
Tommy Lee Jones directs and stars in a film about racism and retribution, writes James Gallaway.

Poetry: Fair Go Gone
Employers in the land rejoice, for we are girt by greed.


 Howard's Advocate Fesses Up

 Cowra - Work Slaughter Legal

 You're Killing Us - BHP Charged Again

 Revealed: Beaconsfield Led AWA Charge

 Warehouse Pushes the Envelope

 Independent Schools Push Class Warfare

 Spotlight on Howard�s Porkies

 PM Backs Visa Buster

 Sutton Wants Middle Men Probed

 ATO Recruiting for WorkChoices

 Taxpayers to Fund Ad Orgy

 New Deal on Canberra Menu

 Appeal for East Timor

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
The Beaconsfield Declaration
As the Prime Minister feted Brant Webb and Todd Russell, their colleagues were outside with a message to the rest of Australia.

The Locker Room
Run Like You Stole Something
Phil Doyle observes that there are some tough bastards out there.

The Westie Wing
That fun-loving friend of the workers, Ian West, reports from the red leather of the Bear Pit.

Class Action
Phil Bradley draws the lines between education funding and the current skills crisis.

 Free Kick
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When the Truth Hurts

Some rare moments of candour this week have vindicated all we�ve been saying about WorkChoices and more.

No, there's been no outbreak of truth by the Howard Government, just the combined contributions of bureaucrats before a Senate committee, a newly appointed commissioner before Tony Jones and the Office of Workplace Services before the Cowra abattoir gets on with laying into its workforce.

Strike One: Senate Estimates Committee, late Tuesday night, the Employment Advocate Peter McIlwaine - under oath - conceded that AWAs were stripping away at basic work rights. Of a sample of 250 AWAs - the OEA doesn't bother looking at them all - 64 percent removed leave loadings, 63 percent removed penalty rates, 52 percent removed shiftwork loadings and 16 percent excluded all of those conditions. These are the same conditions that the government spent millions telling us would be 'protected by law'. If so, this law is truly an ass.

Strike Two: New Fair Pay Commissioner Ian Harper fronts Lateline. Harper's problem is that he is all together too honest for a Howard Government crony. Under heavy questioning, the man who has previously written that sweatshop wages were good for the American economy because they created a culture of competition, conceded that the minimum wage could be reduced in real terms, something the government has been at pains to reassure us would never be the case.

Strike Three: The leaked report from the Office of Workplace Services finds that the infamous sacking of the Cowra Abattoir workers for 'operational reasons' - namely to rehire them for $200 per week less - is entirely within the new laws. Despite the hand-wringing from Minister Andrews when the case shot to national attention in the first week of WorkChoices, the OWS has given the tactics the legal tick-off.

As Workers Online reveals this week, the Cowra abattoir workers are now back at the negotiating table as the employer tries to extract another pay cut - through a collective agreement at this stage- but with the OWS report sitting in the corner like an elephant, the workers knowing that when push comes to shove, they can be legally sacked for 'operational reasons. The dynamics of bargaining are irrevocably changed.

And where is the government? Continuing to dissemble in Federal Parliament, where the Prime Minister this week reverted to attacks on comments made by Kim Beazley in 1993 to justify his attack on low pay. This is the Parliamentary equivalent to waving the white flag.

Officially, the government response case for WorkChoices is being warehoused - more than five million glossy pamphlets in cold storage - after the government realised that a $55 million advertising spin only succeeded in making the laws even less popular.

The IR debate is dead, the government case buried - hoisted on its own petard - their only hope is to shift national attention away from the workplace and hope the punters lose interest - hence tax cuts, nuclear energy and any other moral panic that comes to hand.

For the Australian workforce and the union movement, in particular, vindication is cold comfort - now that we know how nasty these laws are going to be the hard work of protecting workers rights in a system so tilted towards the bosses begins. Now.

We've said it before. This has never been a scare campaign. It's a truth campaign. It's just the truth is scary.

Peter Lewis



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