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Issue No. 313 30 June 2006  

Spin Cycle
As another successful Week of Action comes to an end, we have again been exposed to the Howard Government’s defence of its IR laws, perhaps the flimsiest in Australian political history.


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.


 Bold Post Spy at Rally

 NRL Throws Tradition a Dummy

 Ballarat Derails AWA Push

 Graphic Glimpse Behind the Veil

 Biz Blows Cover

 John Howard Vs God (0:1)

 Andrews A Bit Rich on Wages

 Sydney Backs Booze Deliverers

 Record Numbers in Blacktown

 Hardie Busted Over Burn Victim

 Sacked Mum Has Last Laugh

 Unions: Book Dodgy AWA Bosses

 Jobs War Gathers Pace

 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.

 Man-Goat Love Drug Link
 Dare To Dream
 Better Get A Lawyer
 The Last Laugh
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Ballarat Derails AWA Push

University of Ballarat staff have nailed a collective agreement that refutes John Howard's assertion AWA workers are better off.

So much so, that the University has agreed to protect AWA staff through “policy” to ensure they aren't disadvantaged.

The in-principle agreement came, last Friday, ending an aggressive two and a half year campaign to force staff onto AWAs.

Key improvements over the individual contracts, forced on all new starters, include:

- guaranteed wage movements to March, 2008, of 18 percent, against 13.5 to March, 2009, in the individual contracts. The uni had made the other 4.5 contingent on revenue outcomes

- sign-on bonuses averaging $3,027 against back pay averaging $1509

- retention of independent dispute resolution procedures, against the removal of appeal rights

- 26 weeks paid maternity leave, against 14 weeks

- a clause that ensures staff have choice between collective and individual contracts, against the standard denial inherent in AWAs

NTEU Victorian secretary, Matthew McGowan, hailed the breakthrough in the highly-publicised case as "extremely encouraging".

"It's a 180 degree turn around from where we were three months ago," McGowan said.

"It's important to recognise that university management, after pursuing an aggressive course, realised the importance of dealing fairly with their staff.

"They deserve some recognition for finally sitting down and working through the issues.'

Ballarat hit the headlines when vice-chancellor, Kerry Cox, took it on himself to run federal government's ideological line.

Cox forced no-choice AWAs onto new starters and threatened existing staff if they didn't sign individual contracts, by his deadlines, all offers would be withdrawn.

McGowan said those factors would see university unions argue that all staff should now be allowed to choose whether or not they wished to move to the union-negotiated deal.

"Absolutely," he confirmed. "If this is really about genuine choice people should have the option about coming back to the collective."

Approximately 450 Ballarat employees held out for the collective agreement, while around 280 have signed AWAs.

During the heated dispute, Cox played the role of a WorkChoices jibberer, mouthing lines that were either meaningless or misleading.

Examples included his January 23 statement, celebrating the first batch of AWAs being sent to the Office of the Employment Advocate for registration.

"It is very pleasing that the benefits flowing from significant sustainable salary rises and improved conditions are now available to staff entirely under a freedom-of-choice proposal," he said in a vice-chancellor's office press release.

"Our self-reliance is being modelled through the entire organisation."

On Janurary 19, he was assuring the press staff would be "better off" under AWAs.

"The university's only recourse to exercise its duty of care to staff has been through AWAs, which provide very significantly improved conditions of service and salary levels for staff," Cox claimed.

Workers Online does not suggest that Cox was at the time, or ever had been, in any way involved with the University of Ballarat's English faculty.

Cox shot through in April, leaving the University facing a multi-million dollar class action.

McGowan confirmed the case, alleging the university misled people over its AWA offers, was still being pursued in the federal court.


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