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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.

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Warehouse Pushes the Envelope

A Sydney law firm alleges a union organiser applied �duress� by warning members an AWA would cost them $50 a week.

The threat was delivered as the federal court ruled employers could make promotion, and even employment, conditional on signing individual agreements.

A letter from law firm Baker and McKenzie on behalf of the company, Esselte Australia, alleges Mark Cochrane broke industrial relations laws by applying "duress to an employer or an employee in connection with an AWA".

The NUW (National Union of Workers) organiser had spoke to meetings of Esselte employees during lunch breaks about AWAs the company was offering compared to the collective agreement.

Cochrane said workers were getting a glossed-over explanation of the AWA from the employer.

"A lot of them didn't understand what they stood to lose," he said.

Under the AWA, Esselte could dodge overtime loadings by averaging hours over a 12-month period.

The condition would allow the employer to force workers to work extended hours during busy periods without paying overtime.

The AWA also seeks to strip rostered days off, union picnic days, meal allowances, afternoon and paid meal breaks - leaving workers on a base rate of $36,338 a year.

Cochrane said Esselte had pressured workers to sign the AWAs.

"From my understanding no-one has signed the AWA - except one," Cochrane said.

"(Esselte) are actually helping me recruit from the site."

Esselte lawyers also alleged Cochrane had threatened not to represent employees who signed AWAs, and had flagged media attention to the dispute.

They also claimed their had been suggestions Esselte trucks would be held up at other sites.

Cochrane shrugged off the claims, saying they were ridiculous.

Esselte is owned by the US-based JW Childs Corporation, which has an annual turnover of $US1.5 billion.

The federal court, meanwhile, has ruled that the object of the Howard government's Workchoices legislation was not to prevent "pressure being exerted on an employee'.

Justice Madgwick said, for illegitimate pressure to arise, an offer of employment contingent on signing an AWA was insufficient.

He found a landscaping company did not apply "duress" although a worker claimed he had been denied a promotion, and increased earnings, because he would not sign an AWA.

In essence, Justice Madgwick ruled the groundsman had been offered a choice.

"In short," he said, "the proposal equated to presenting a choice between the applicant having the promotion if he signed the AWA, or not getting that promotion if he did not."

Justice Madgwick explained why denying someone employment if they wouldn't sign an AWA was not duress, like this:

"While pressure was being applied, it was not necessarily the employer who was applying it. Therefore, it would not be possible in such cases to sue the employer for duress.

"In such a case the employee is under pressure in connection with the AWA, but it is not the employer who has applied it."


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