||Issue No. 311||16 June 2006|
Interview: Rock Solid
Industrial: Eight Simple Rules for Employing My Teenage Daughter
Politics: The Johnnie Code
Energy: Fission Fantasies
History: All The Way With Clarrie O'Shea
International: Closer to Home
Economics: Taking the Fizz
Unions: Stronger Together
Review: Montezuma's Revenge
Poetry: Fair Go Gone
The Locker Room
A Nuclear Error
Business Bombs Beazley
Business Council of Australia boss, Michael Chaney, has put the Opposition leader on notice that Australia's largest companies will undermine his bid to become Prime Minister, if he doesn't distance himself from party policy on AWAs.
The Business Council hammered Mark Latham in the lead-up to the 2003 poll and, in a personal letter, last week, Chaney warned Beazley was headed for similar treatment.
"Prior to the last federal election, the BCA was critical of the ALP for seeking to re-regulate the labour market and reverse the direction of workplace reform," Chaney wrote.
"The BCA views your announcement in the same light."
Chaney, who as chairman of Wesfarmers hauled down a salary of $6.12 million, last year, is an aggressive supporter of WorkChoices legislation that allows business to slash employees' incomes and greenlights unjustified dismissals.
His BCA, made up of the chief executives of Australia's largest companies, wrote the cheque for a tv advertising campaign in support of WorkChoices, last year.
At the heart of that system, are AWAs - take-it or leave-it contracts that can be imposed on workers as a condition of employment.
Barely a month after WorkChoices became effective, the minimalist documents have already been used to eliminate overtime, statutory holiday entitlements, penalty payments, shift allowances and slash annual leave below the four-week standard.
AWAs that cut negotiated conditions can be "offered" at any time, even during the currency of an existing agreement.
Unions are barred from entering premises where all staff are on AWAs, even if those people are union members.
After months of equivocation, Beazley made his stand at last week's NSW party conference.
"I believe AWAs are the poison tip of John Howard's industrial relations arrow," Beazley said. "They can't be fixed. They must be rejected."
Business reaction was swift and aggressive.
Chaney's position was echoed by former Peter Reith staffer and Business Council chief executive, Peter Hendy; Rio Tinto managing director, Charlie Lenegan; and the Australian Mines and Metals Association.
The Mines and Metals Association, a leader in the de-unionisation drives of the 1990s, claimed doing away with AWAs would cost the economy $6.6 billion a year.
It advanced no evidence for that claim.
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