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Issue No. 312 23 June 2006  

Striking Out Rights
As Australian trade unionist prepare for the latest National Week of Action, broader consequences of the IR changes are becoming apparent. And they are not good for democracy.


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.


 Tooheys Orders a Blue

 Safety Standards Go East

 Libs Laugh At Sacked Mum

 Stoner's Cognitive Faculties Functioning

 Rail Workers Gagged

 Post Delivers Threat

 Elderly Face WorkChoices Assault

 Good Yarn Hits Cyberspace

 Business Buckets WorkChoices

 Hands Off Our Vital Stats

 Telstra Plays Tag and Release

 Multi Yanks Howard's Chain

 Nurses Reject Low Road

 Micks Bone Up On WorkChoices

 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.

 More Proof
 Fire Up
 Big Dog
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Tooheys Orders a Blue

Tooheys drinkers are being urged to consider the attractions of Reschs, Carlton or VB as brewery drivers face earnings cuts that could cost them their family homes.

Under Tooheys' new contract with transport company Linfox, drivers are being told to cut their pay by $42,000, and to fork out up to $50,000 to upgrade their rigs.

"We'd like people to think before they have a drink," Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Mark Lennon said.

NSW Parliamentarians have little choice as bar staff are refusing to serve Tooheys brews because of the company's "deplorable" treatment of drivers.

Public Service Association secretary, John Cahill, said bar staff were outraged at Tooheys using the current industrial relations climate to dud workers.

"They saw it as a good way to put a bit of pressure on Tooheys," Cahill said.

The contracts came as the Federal Government introduced new "independent contractor" laws, which will deny thousands of workers the right to conditions protected under state law, such as minimum rates of pay, entitlements and access to unfair contracts remedies.

The Independent Contractors Act transfers "independent contractors" - 400,000 of whom work for a single company - from employment laws to commercial regimes.

NSW and Victorian owner-drivers will be exempted from the act, but this will be reviewed after 12 months.

NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca said people would be forced into contracting arrangements where they were left footing bills for their own holidays, workers compensation and superannuation.

"Workers will have to assume responsibility for all of these things, pays the costs, and shoulder the risks," Della Bosca said.

Della Bosca said, in combination with WorkChoices, the proposed contractor law would be used to dud workers.

"This bill will make it as easy as possible for employers to sack employees and employ them as contractors."

Tooheys drivers are fighting back through the Transport Workers Union which was locked in negotiations as Workers Online published.

The TWU says drivers have paid up to $450,000 for their Tooheys rounds and company demands could cost debt-laden drivers their family homes.

The government's Bill seeks to deny contractors the right to bargain collectively. It would make it illegal to "collude" against commercial giants like Lion Nathan or Linfox.

"Contractor" status has already been forced on building workers and meatworkers, including labourers, in the face of ATO warnings that contracting poses a threat to the integrity of Australia's tax system.

The ATO told federal government's Building Industry Royal Commission that that sector hid up to 40 percent of its income with contractors posing the biggest problem.

It testified levels of non-compliance were "high and widespread" amongst smaller industry operators.


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