The rumour that Kevin Andrews is opposed to sex because it leads to dancing has received a boost after he expressed dismay that some people were still having fun despite his fab new work laws.
Kev is dismayed that young Australians continue to think for themselves, despite the good reverend's passionate belief that we are better off being work-orientated automatons, living solely for the benefit of the BRW top 100 list.
Kev was foaming at the mouth this week after Calwell High won the ACT Rock Eisteddfod with a piece about the reality of WorkChoices called 'The Devil's In the Detail'.
Andrews, who has done his own deal with the Devil, found it "difficult to believe" students came up with the idea themselves.
In a bizarre co-incidence, many of the kids found it "difficult to believe" that the government could OK the individual contracts that are ripping them off.
This is the never-never land that Andrews occupies, where he can't make the connection between the kids at the rock eisteddfod and the same kids working down the road at the Tuggeranong Shopping Centre; in retail and hospitality, making juices, waiting tables, flipping burgers and washing dishes on the very contracts that Andrews designed.
What does he think teenagers live on? Air?
Is he aware of the reality of many Australian families, where if you're old enough, and you want something, you're going to have to get a job and pay for it yourself?
It's what happens when you have a government that sends housing affordability through the roof and drives a B-Double semi trailer
And many of those kids are out there getting those jobs themselves, on individual contracts and often without the award protection and workplace safety enjoyed under a more civilised system. Especially safety.
Anyone who has flipped burgers for a living knows the joys of your own personalised burn scars.
Joel Exner was 16 when he plunged to his death from a building site because of slack safety standards and an employer quite happy to take advantage of a kid's inexperience.
Does Kevin Andrews find that "hard to believe"?
Is he in such a parallel universe that he "doesn't get it"?
Thousands of high school kids across the country are working in just about any industry you could care to mention. According to Kev these kids have no opinion.
These are the kids that are being asked to sign Andrews' contracts
No wonder they want to make a song and dance about it. You don't have to be Einstein to figure out that ripping up the award and treating a fifteen-year-old kid and a small business operator as being 'equal' when it comes to negotiating is pretty sick.
But Andrews doesn't seem to be too bothered about abusing kids, maybe that has something to do with his theology; and he seems quite content that kids can be turned into cheap workplace fodder for our fellow Australians who like to display their integrity by ripping off kids.
But lo behold that those kids should use a very entertaining format to present something that is now a reality for many kids in the workplace.
One redeeming feature is our Tool Of the Week's recognition that the Rock Eisteddfod "is designed to promote positive lifestyle messages for our youth".
Thank God for that, because WorkChoices sure as hell doesn't.
Amidst his foaming, Uncle Kevin decided to take a swing at the teachers, obviously a bunch of crazed Marxists intent on feeding these innocent children some communist conspiracy.
The truth is not that the teachers are responsible for "hijacking" a rock eisteddfod, nor was it the kids, or even the parents. It was Kevin Andrews himself that set this train in motion.
It's his laws that have made these kids speak out. These kids are bearing the brunt of it, and so are their parents. Kev's right, no one should hijack the rock eisteddfod, especially dim-witted politicians that are so far removed from the reality of working life in Australia today they may as well be on another planet.
The manoeuvre came to light when Huon Group administrators sacked 122 people from factories in Bendigo, Frankston and Dandenong, last week, and announced $30 million in owed entitlements, for all 600 employees, had disappeared.
Last year, Howard altered regulations so his GEERS Scheme would only have to meet entitlements when an employer had gone into bankruptcy.
Huon went into voluntary administration, two weeks ago, and, prior to last November, its staff would have been covered by GEERS.
AMWU Victorian secretary, Dave Oliver, called the Howard sting "dishonest" and "disgraceful'.
"Two events brought GEERS into being," Oliver said, "the company run by John Howard's brother, Stan, leaving employees high and dry, and the collapse of Ansett.
"In the run-up to a general election, John Howard introduced GEERS to protect entitlements then, by regulation, he gutted it.
"As a result, we've got 600 long-serving employees who have lost everything. Basically, those entitlements were their life savings."
Even worse, Oliver said, the regulatory change encouraged administrators to rip-off long-serving staff.
"The regulation undermines the whole point of establishing the scheme," he said. "It gives administrators a major incentive to cut people loose."
Furious employees deserted all three factories after mass meetings, last Friday.
NUW and AMWU members set up picket lines and determined to let nothing in or out until sacked colleagues received their full entitlements.
"They've voted to take control of the company's assets until something is sorted out," Oliver confirmed.
The Huon Group collapse is a messy story that has seen workers, many with 20 years service, dudded by corporate shenanigans.
They worked most of their lives for Nylex and that company was responsible for the vast majority of accrued entitlements - holiday pay, redundancy, long service etc.
Nylex sold out to the Huon Group, last year, provoking union attempts to guarantee entitlements, following the default of another Nylex subsidiary.
Oliver says the company pledged to set up a bond worth more than $3 million but there is no evidence of that pledge being honoured.
Then, after the sale, Huon transferred the largest asset, the land, into a separate property trust controlled by one of its directors and his daughters.
The move shows John Howard's claim that workers are in a “sellers market” is a lie, according to Australian Services Union Assistant National Secretary Linda White.
"John Howard suggests that the workforce is homogenous, when it clearly isn't," says White. "How does this affect people on welfare? If they don't pay the $89 if they're sent for a job interview, does that mean they're disqualified?
"Is this Howard's plan, getting workers to pay for the privilege of working?"
The Jetstar interview cost covers a $40 fee for a personality test and $49 for a security check.
Parent company, Qantas, has flagged sending jobs offshore if it cannot slash workers' incomes.
Qantas is a leading player in the Business Council of Australia's aggressive support for WorkChoices. Last year it paid its chief executive, Geoff Dixon, $6.1 million.
Workers Online was unable to verify whether or not Dixon had been required to pay to attend to his job interview.
White said unions were not only concerned about Jetstar International's plans to slash working conditions but Qantas' overall plans to cut labour costs.
The Stolt Australia was tied up in Hobart for six days as crew protested plans for the mass sacking of Australians and their replacement by Filipinos earning barely $400 a month.
Stolt won back-to-work orders in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that exposed MUA members to fines of $6000 a day and possible 12-month prison terms under John Howard's draconian workplace regime.
But the vessel only sailed, with its cargo of sulphuric acid, after Stolt agreed to open its books to the MUA and investigate the replacement of the Stolt Australia with another Australian-crewed vessel.
One shift of the 18-strong crew remained inside the Zinifex smelter while members of a second shift chained themselves outside the gate.
During negotiations, both parties agreed the Stolt Australia was unsuitable for coastal duties.
The dispute broke when Stolt revealed it would operate the vessel under a flag of Caribbean tax haven, the Cayman Islands, with low-wage labour.
MUA Tasmanian secretary, Mike Wickham, said crew saw every day alongside as a victory.
"They saw this as an opportunity to make it widely known that the IR laws stank and that they were prepared to something about them," Wickham said.
"The MOU is a moral victory for the crew. They were standing up for the rights and conditions of all workers in this country."
Australian shipping has been decimated since the Howard Government encouraged companies to go offshore in search of cheap, unskilled labour.
The possibility of an alternative, Australian-crewed tanker is seen as a holding measure in that battle.
The ACTU and International Transport Workers Federation (ICFTU) supported the MUA in negotiations with the company.
A five-month DIMA investigation into T&R Pastoral's use of 137 Asian meatworkers has disappeared down a bureaucratic back alley with consultants confirming its completetion but departmental officials denying it.
"We believe the report will back up what we've been saying all along - these people are not working within the terms of their visas," South Australian Meatworkers Union secretary, Graham Smith, told Workers Online.
"We are calling on the Minister to release the document."
DIMA was pressured into commissioning a report on T&R Pastoral's use of controversial 457 visas after the Meatworkers Union alleged they were being used to hold down local wages.
According to the union, the company employs immigrants as "skilled" workers but uses them to do "unskilled" labour that attracts the highest pay rates.
The meat industry recognises only one "skilled" occupation - slaughterman - but Smith says imported workers are predominantly engaged in boning and slicing.
"These are the high paid jobs in a meatworks," he explains. "And they are being denied to local workers.
"The upshot is the incentive to stay is being removed and the labour shortage, visas are supposed to address, is actually being made worse."
Smith says AWAs, imposed by meat companies, pay labourers around $600 a week but boners and slicers get closer to $1000.
DIMA agreed to investigate the claims and commissioned industry training organisation, MINTRAC, to prepare a report.
MINTRAC contracted the job to an independent assessor who spent five months investigating T&R's Murray Bridge operation.
Training Council chief executive, Jenny Kroonstuiver, told the Australian newspaper the report had been completed and handed to DIMA "several weeks ago".
But Vanstone's office says the "final" report has not been received.
"We just think they should come clean," Smith says.
"The fact is these people are supposed to be trade-equivalent slaughtermen, that's what their visas say. They are not working as slaughtermen, we know that and now DlIMA knows it too.
"The real question is - what is it going to do about it?"
Meanwhile, 70 Australian workers have been sacked from Conroy's Adelaide boning plant as a condition of its sale to T&R Pastoral.
Judith Wheeldon, AM, former principal of Sydney girls schools, Abbotsleigh and Queenwood, described the offer by the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) as “Work Choices Contracts” in The Australian this week.
The Independent Education Union says the move will fundamentally erode the working conditions of teachers.
The agreement, secretly circulated to school principals last week, has been developed without negotiation or consultation with teachers.
The AIS intends rolling our the agreements through a series of presentations to teachers when school resumes from Monday.
"All teachers pay for the salary increases in the agreement by losing long-standing working conditions," says secretary of the IEU, Dick Shearman. "Overall all teachers will be worse off if they accept this agreement. Salary increases accompanied by loss of conditions is just a smoke and mirrors device."
The AIS agreements include:
- Loss of up to two weeks school holidays
- Loss of 17.5% annual leave loading
- Massive reduction in long service leave entitlements
- No improvement in paid maternity leave to match the standard in Catholic and non-government schools
- Reduced number of promotion opportunities
- Promotions at the grace and favour of school principals
- Part-time teachers to have same extra-curricular duties as full-time teachers, including playground duties and school camps.
"The agreement is being presented on a take it or leave it basis," says Shearman. "The Union's advice to members is to leave it.
The Union will campaign for salary increases without a loss of conditions.
The ISA represents some of the wealthiest schools in Australia, including The Shore School, Newington College, Cranbrook School, and Scots College.
The technicians will be made redundant as Telstra rolls out its “next generation” fibre optic network.
"These are the staff that can do that work and now you get rid of them, who's going to do it?" CEPU Organiser Steve Dodd said.
Dodd said people from the country felt betrayed and let down by Telstra's actions.
"Telstra and federal politicians owe people in the bush an explanation why they are sacking these workers who service their homes, businesses and schools."
Meanwhile, low paid staff, soon to be sacked at a Telstra-owned data processing centre, will take court action over claims the Australia's biggest company ripped them off up to $24,000.
More than 60 workers at KAZ in Melbourne are owed three years of unpaid allowances, overtime and shift penalties.
The predominantly female workforce take home a base rate of less than $30,000 a year.
CEPU Victorian secretary Len Cooper said Telstra should avoid court action and pay workers their entitlements.
"It's a terrible way to treat their low-paid workers," Cooper said.
The company has indicated it will pay the entitlements and redundancies when the KAZ centre closes in August.
The move comes as Telstra boss Sol Trujillo was branded "worst boss ever" by his peers in business.
A survey of more than 140 financial analysts and fund managers, whose attitudes help determine company stock prices, rated Mr Trujillo the least admired chief executive in Australia.
Telstra was the second least admired company behind package producer Amcor - which has been linked to a price fixing scandal.
Mal Peters has seen delegates and safety reps sacked around him as employers and the federal government went flat out to claim scalps for draconian new powers bestowed on John Howard's building industry police force.
The campaign culminated with Peters and 106 colleagues being charged by the Building Industry Commission with defying orders that forbade them taking any industrial action whatsoever.
They struck for 12 days, after job delegate Peter Ballard was summarily dismissed by the Leightons Kumaigi consortium.
"It's like World War Two over here," Peters told Workers Online. "The guys are shell shocked but they are standing together.
"It's been a non-stop campaign of intimidation.
"One safety rep went away on holiday and found he had been replaced when he got back. A tunneler who raised a safety issue was moved out of the tunnel to the far end of the job.
"They sacked another good bloke who stood up for his mates, Charlie Isaac, and then they sacked Peter when the new laws came in.
"I have already had two written warnings and I know they are after me but somebody has to stand up and tell the truth."
Peters said when agents for the Building Industry Commission started delivering writs to homes, late at night, workers were shattered.
"They thought they had weeded out all the staunch guys but nobody is going to put up with this, not in Australia," he said. "Blokes are really arcing up.
"When we went back to work, months ago, Leightons promised not to pursue legal action and they haven't. These writs, and the threats to people's homes, are the government's doing."
Peters and his wife, Bernie, will speak at union and public meetings in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane over the next two weeks.
Dates and venues were being finalised as Workers Online published.
Final details should be available from state branches of the CFMEU, or peak union bodies.
The pair - Australian Services Union delegates at the Salvation Army's Faith Cottage - were suspended by the Salvation Army who, it is alleged, breached the award grievance and dispute-settling procedure.
"The Salvos have been outrageous and have acted irresponsibly and unfairly on this issue," ASU organiser Kylie Rook said.
The two workers from Faith Cottage were suspended following an emergency meeting of concerned community members on Wednesday last week about proposed cost-cutting changes at the refuge, which included abandoning 'sleep over' shifts and terminating the employment of full-time staff who would then be re-hired as part-time workers.
The emergency meeting heard from Mr Bryce Gaudry, Member for Newcastle, who said that the Salvation Army had been advised by the Department of Community Services not to implement the changes until further negotiations with management were completed.
Ms Rook said Faith Cottage faced an uncertain future over a part time contract the Salvation Army has imposed, which would see staff lose as much $180 per week in pay.
"These people have worked for 20 years with the Salvation Army and the Salvation Army has shown a distinct lack of Christian charity in its actions," Ms Rook said.
The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters had agreed almost a month ago to continue discussions over proposed changes at Faith Cottage When this promise was broken Wednesdays emergency meeting of concerned community members was called.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union offered to train Schifcofske for a post-football career as an occupational health and safety officer if he stayed with the Raiders.
However, the offer came too late and Schifcofske confirmed he would play his football with the Queensland Rugby Union side next year.
CFMEU ACT secretary, George Wasson, said his members would be disappointed.
"Clinton was a very good captain but he also made a positive contribution to the community," Wasson said.
"His father was a miner and a member of the CFMEU for donkey's ages and Clinton was always supportive of what we did for our members in Canberra."
Schifcofske and Raiders captain, Simon Woolford, fronted a Your Rights at Work halftime video presentation, last month, that drew the ire of the National Rugby League.
The job offer was part of the CFMEU's controversial move to become the Raiders' major sponsor. Liberal supporters and business groups have lashed a tie-up that will run to the end of the 2009 season.
Wasson said the link was an obvious one for a blue collar union.
"Rugby league is the working man's game," he said.
"There was a real chance that the Raiders would be forced to relocate and we weren't prepared to sit on our hands and watch that happen to an integral part of the Canberra community."
He said members funds weren't involved in a sponsorship arrangement that was underwritten by successful Tradies licensed clubs at Dickson and Woden.
A State Government survey has revealed a more than a quarter of public servants over 45 plan to retire in the next five years.
Stephen Turner, of the Public Service Association, has warned hospitals and schools will be the hardest hit, because of their older, predominantly female workforces.
Turner said both the NSW Government and Opposition failed to recognise these workers must be replaced, and were more interested in cutting public service numbers.
"Unless immediate attention is given to how the Government is going to train and recruit staff, there are going to be serious holes in frontline services," Turner said.
The NSW Labor Government has announced it will cut public sector numbers by 5000 while the Debnam-led Opposition wants almost 30,000 jobs shed.
There are about 300,000 people employed in the state public service.
Doubts have been raised about the sincerity of Liberal MP Jim Lloyd's concern over the fate of Coles Warehouse workers at Somersby after it emerged he had made no attempt to meet or talk with them about their predicament.
Over 400 Coles' workers were made redundant last week after the retail giant announced plans to close the warehouse by August.
National Union of Workers NSW secretary Derrick Belan said Lloyd's sudden interest in the welfare of the Coles workers was probably more about the political fallout for him rather that the plight of the workers.
"Mr. Lloyd has made no attempt to meet with the workers or the union. He has not made any attempt to visit the site to speak with the people concerned.
"Remember, Mr. Lloyd is the MP who admitted he did not read the Workchoices legislation before voting on it, so we view any concern he may have for workers as highly suspicious.
"We think Jim Lloyd may be crying crocodile tears on this issue."
Belan said he would welcome any serious attempt at a rescue package from government to assist the Coles workers.
He said the Federal Government was not responsible for turning anyone away from TAFE despite presiding under a funding shortfall of $330 million a year, instead pointing the finger at the states.
Hardgrave made the comments while slamming an Australian Education Union-backed inquiry into the future of state and territory TAFE systems.
NSW Teachers Federation assistant general secretary, Phil Bradley, said the feds spent almost a quarter less on vocational training in 2004 than in 1997, accounting for inflation and increased student hours.
Bradley said although states were responsible for running TAFEs, funding was an important factor to consider.
"Gary Hardgrave's media release is misleading," he said. "There's been a significant shortfall in state funding, but the states have cut less [than the Commonwealth]."
Bradley said the official figure of 34,000 people turned away from TAFE in 2004 did not take into account people who could not afford courses, people who had not been able to access under-funded prerequisite courses and people who did not put themselves on the waiting list because of personality or language problems.
"Who's going to waste their time queuing for a course if they know they can't afford the upfront money."
The National TAFE Futures inquiry will travel around NSW until August, gleaning information on issues affecting TAFE.
More information is available from the inquiry's website www.tafefutures.org.au
Tetsuro Tanaka, a union activist at telecommunications equipment manufacturer OKI Electric, has kept a daily vigil of his former workplace for a quarter of a century.
Every morning he sings and plays guitar at the factory gates, spending an entire day there once a month on the anniversary of his sacking.
Tanaka wields his guitar, singing about attacks on unions, the corporate undermining of mateship, and the loneliness of the sacked worker. For an income he relies on music teaching and concert dates at union and folk gigs.
He has been presented with human rights awards, sung at union concerts, provided support for other sacked workers and, as recently as last month, was being forcefully evicted from an OKI shareholder's meeting.
Last month he gave moral support to a protesting schoolteacher, suspended without pay for refusing to stand and sing the national anthem.
Tanaka says the compulsory callisthenics was less about fitness and more about conformity, and the companies actions were simply a ruse to get rid of him for being a union troublemaker.
Recent media reports claim Tanaka's troubles started when management identified him as a union activist after he also objected to forced redundancies and complained that managers were bullying his workmates.
OKI, who sponsor the St George Illawarra Dragons NRL club, presented Tanaka with two options, take a job a long way from his home, or 'agree' to be fired. He took neither, instead taking up his stand outside the factory gates in a ritual that has become so regular, local schoolkids time themselves by Tanaka's presence - if he's still singing they aren't late for school.
"The most important thing is not to think of yourself," Tanaka recently told the media. "Don't protest selfishly, don't think of yourself. The conclusion to a life of selfishness is unhappiness. Clever people profit by helping others. Recently I have felt very happy. Fired people have no retirement age."
Sydney documentary maker, Maree Delofski, is making a film entitled Mr Tanaka Will Not Do Callisthenics.
CFMEU SOLIDARITY EVENING
A solidarity evening to support workers engaged on the Perth to Mandurah Rail Project in Western Australia. These workers had gone on strike for 12 days in February after their colleague Peter Ballard was unfairly dismissed. The dispute was resolved and the project returned to normal and no further disruptions have occurred.
On the evening of July 5th, 107 of the 430 workers were issued with summons for engaging in unlawful industrial action. Each worker is now facing a fine of up to $28,000 for protecting their job delegate. John Howard's Australian Building & Construction Commission has initiated this action against these workers.
One of the affected workers and his partner will be present at the solidarity evening. The details of the evening are as follows:
Date: Monday, 24th July 2006
Venue: Trades Hall Auditorium
APHEDA Trivia Night
August 4, Friday, Trivia Challenge 2006
Happy Hour 6pm - 7pm, Trivia 7pm sharp
2nd Floor, TLC Building
16 Peel St, South Brisbane
Teams of 8, $15 per person
Drinks available at bar
NOTE: Table numbers strictly limited to 25
To donate prizes or more info contact:
Joan Skewes, Paula Rogers, or Beth Mohle on 3840 1444
APHEDA Winter Dinner
August 5, Saturday, "Warm Up for Winter" Annual Dinner
6.30pm Thirroul Railway Institute, Railway Pde, Thirroul
$35 per head, Mike Deakin on piano, special guest David Field
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA NSW South Coast Activists
Book now by calling 02 4229 6737 or emailing [email protected]
NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS FORUM 2006
Ends with cocktail evening
Fair Go From Here?
2nd in the 'Fair Go' conference series
Hosted by the Australian State and Territory Governments, this one-day event provides an opportunity for employers, workers, social commentators and academics to engage in constructive and open debate about the real impact of the federal Work Choices legislation on the Australian workplace.
The forum provides an affordable opportunity to hear a balanced and broad range of views from reputed experts in academia and advocacy and will discuss the implications of the federal government's industrial relations changes examine ways of working under these changes and the implications for IR in practice and explore ways forward in the new IR environment.
Date: Thursday 24th August 2006
Location: Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Time: 9.30am - 5.10pm
Conference website: www.iceaustralia.com/ir
Fair Go website: www.fairgo.nsw.gov.au/Conference/index.html
Email: [email protected]
Pope Talks IR
Monday 25 September 2006.
Brisbane Work and Industry Futures QUT, and the Department of Industrial Relations Griffith University are convening a one-day conference that explores Work, Industrial Relations and Popular Culture.
David Pope, the cartoonist behind the Heinrich Hinze cartoons will be Keynote Speaker with his presentation - "Is the pen mightier than s356? Cartoons and Work" (www.scratch.com.au)
We welcome any paper that explores the manner in which popular culture is used by unions, management or policy makers or alternatively, how work and industrial relations is represented within popular culture.
Sub-themes for the conference include: - Policy, Influence and Modern Mediums - Which is Reality, Work or TV? - Popular Music: Is it the End of the Working Class Man? - Working in the Movies: What do we see? - Popular Culture as a Teaching Tool. Call for Papers. Abstracts are due 14 July 2006 Full papers are due 11 September 2006 Location; Southbank, Brisbane.
The convenors would welcome participants to submit proposed titles earlier to assist in preparations. For further information please contact Keith Townsend ([email protected]) or David Peetz ([email protected])
Rekindling the Flames of Discontent: How the Labour and Folk Movements Work Together
A Conference - Dinner - Concert
The Brisbane Labour History Association is holding a Conference/Dinner/Concert on Saturday 23 September. This event will explore the historical relationship between the labour movement and the folk movement in Australia with a particular emphasis on Queensland.
Why? To celebrate the history of the interaction between the Folk and Labour movements, and promote its longevity.
When? Saturday 23 September. Conference from 1pm. Concert from 7pm.
Where? East Brisbane Bowls Club, Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, Next to Mowbray Park
It is still in the formative stages, but to date the following are confirmed:
1-5pm CONFERENCE (will include music with the presentations):
Doug Eaton on John Manifold & the Communist Arts Group in Brisbane, Brisbane Realists
Bob & Margaret Fagan on Sydney Realist Writers
Mark Gregory on trade union & labour songs/music, nationally/internationally
Lachlan & Sue on international perspectives
5 - 7pm Drinks followed by DINNER
7 - 11pm CONCERT
Combined Unions Choir
Bob and Margaret Fagan
Lorissa Stevens should not be embarrassed by being bullied into crying in front of the boys because it sounds like she, despite her tears and fears, stood up for herself by refusing to sign the unfair AWA when at least some of the boys didn't.
D Smith, NSW
John Howard has been caught with a "Dead mans hand".
It's time that John Howard called an "Ace an Ace" and a "Spade a Spade" and stopped with the Poker face and bluff about his new "Workchoices" legislation.
John Howard's "jihad" upon working men and women strikes far beyond the workplace. Pensions are indexed from the minimum wage and the essence of "Workchoices" is merely to reduce wages and conditions. If the minimum wage is reduced then so to will the Pension.
In 1987, John Howard stated; "We will be getting rid of the bulk billing system, it is an absolute rort, "he went further to say, 'we will be proposing changes to the public health system which will amount to complete dismantling, we will pull it right apart".
Medicare is levied from our wages at 1.5% of Gross and a further 1% for any person earning over $50,000 if he or she does not have private health care. Any reduction in wages is not only an assault on workers but a callous attack upon Medicare and Pensioners.
John Howard is no friend of Small Business, by reducing wages, workers will no longer have the disposable income to spend on consumables or services as they will be indebted with their mortgages.
The "Workchoices" legislation is merely designed to shift wealth from the "working class" to the "ruling class" as who would have the capital to purchase assets (at a steal) when interest rates rise because working wages are reduced.
When people begin to default on their mortgage or loan repayments interest rates are adjusted to accommodate against the risk, it is not rocket science, simply basic economics.
John Howard and his Government should be wearing Balaclavas.
Sean Ambrose aka (Governor)
Stevedore MUA Port Botany
Further details have come to hand regarding the fate of Lt. Ehren Watada who is mentioned in this month's Soapbox article. Watada has officially been charged under the US Uniform Code of Military Justice with missing movements, contempt towards officials (specifically President G. W. Bush), and with conduct unbecoming a gentleman. He faces over seven years in military prison.
Rowan Cahill, NSW
This letter is to sypathise with the childcare workers employed by ABC Childcare. I myself have seen the way they have to run around cleaning toilets v acuuming, mopping floors, while looking after children. I think this is digusting behavior and should not continue.
Debbie Turner, NSW
Like Peter Costello, most of us swallowed the concept of honesty with our mother's milk. And what is the matter with that?
Without an acceptance of honesty, in our dealings, society simply breaks down. If we cannot rely on the premise that when our bosses, workmates, partners, friends or leaders give us an assurance, it will stick, we are reduced to a collection of autonomous individuals without support or, for that matter, very much hope.
John Howard's idol Margaret Thatcher nailed it when she claimed there was "no such thing as society". The follower has become the leader.
Think "never ever" GST, children overboard, weapons of mass destruction and, the grand daddy of them all, the long-running woppa that is WorkChoices.
Using terms like "choice" for non-negotiable AWAs and spending our money to tell us a whole range of conditions, are "protected by law", when, in fact, they're up for grabs, is plainly dishonest.
It is behaviour that destroys trust in our institutions and weakens Australia as a society, reinforcing the view, even amongst the dubious, that dealing honestly is a cute relic of a bygone time.
The feeling is consistently reinforced by the actions of the rich and powerful - James Hardie, the Business Council of Australia et al.
Just last week, operators of our neighbourhood supermarkets, joined the movement. After months of denying they intended closing their Central Coast Distribution Centre, the big wigs at Coles turned around and put 400 locals out of work.
Barely an eyebrow was raised.
Now the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are, effectively, calling one another liars over some arcane deal that was or wasn't done 12 years ago.
Fact is, while its stimulated the press gallery, most people don't give a rats because, after 10 years of this mob, they expect to be lied to.
In the labour movement we expect basic conditions, liveable wages, a share in the country's prosperity and avenues for redress against injustice.
But we don't just expect them as some sort of entitlement born of holy writ.
They are ingredients in the glue that holds society together and binds it stronger. And honesty, in a meaningful rather than legal sense, is the base material.