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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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Nurses Reject Low Road

As John Howard urges workers to accept individual contracts, thousands of Queensland nurses have nailed a billion dollar settlement through collective bargaining.

The three-year deal, endorsed last week, delivers 25 percent increases, against earnings cuts contained in a string of highly-publicised individual agreements.

Under the agreement, salaries of level one nurses will rise from $53,525 to $64,496 by March, 2009. The base rates of unit and ward managers will climb from 66,929 to $86,416.

The settlement brings Queensland nurses up to parity with colleagues in southern states.

Queensland Nurses Union secretary, Gay Hawksworth, said 71 percent of 11,455 nurses had voted to accept the Beattie Government offer.

She said recruitment and retention would be bolstered by the agreement.

Hawksworth compared the result with the wages nurses earned in private hospitals, under the control of federal government policies.

"If anyone is in any doubt that the Howard Government's agenda is to cut pay rates across society they should have a look at wage trends in the aged care industry over the last ten years," Hawksworth said.

"A couple of examples in Townsville prove just how poorly the current Federal Government treats nurses. A full-time, experienced assistant in nursing (AIN) at Pallarenda Garden Settlement is currently on about $625.00 per week and at the Good Shepherd Nursing Home he or she is on about $610.00.

"An equivalent AIN at the Townsville Hospital is on about $705.00. That's nearly $80.00 per week or $4000.00 per year in both cases and it's all because the Federal Government is committed to driving wages down in as many areas of the economy as possible."

Canberra brought into the row through the federal member for Herbert, Peter Lindsay, who told parliament the nurses settlement was "irresponsible".

Lindsay made his name telling constituents blatant lies about WorkChoices, including the following, still on his personal website: "Union claims that workers will lose penalty rates, overtime payments, long service leave and leaving loading are not correct."

Hawksworth said politicians like Lindsay were determined to push their low pay agenda into public hospitals.

"They seem to forget that their low-pay policies contributed to one of the most severe nurse shortages this country has faced for a long time. " she said.


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