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Issue No. 311 16 June 2006  

Big Target
Well, he’s finally done it. Opposition leader Kim Beazley has wrestled with his internal doubters and staked his future, and one suspects the next election, on workers rights.


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.


 Esselte Occasioning Workplace Harm

 Andrews Backs State Laws

 Death Sentence for BHP

 Unions Deliver: Freehills

 No Job is Safe: AIRC

 Klan Backs Jan

 Village People Clean Up

 Dad Heads for Blacktown

 Indonesian Guards Occupy Office

 Qantas Passes the Bucks

 IR Laws a Loser: Lib

 Business Bombs Beazley

 OECD Undercuts Howard

 Leafy Council Rewards Choppers

 High Price Of A Low Wage

 Actvist'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.

 Lost in the Supermarket
 Career Opportunities
 A Nuclear Error
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Business Bombs Beazley

Big business is trying to bully Kim Beazley into ratting on ALP policy.

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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