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Issue No. 324 15 September 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Democracy Rules
The hysterical response to the ACTU’s blueprint to restore industrial democracy to the Australian workplace only serves to underline what a brazen grab for employer privilege the Howard Government’s changes to IR really are.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
The ACCC is the latest state agency to turn its guns on the construction union. National official, Dave Noonan, discusses the implications.

Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
With new laws looming for “independent contractors”, Foxtel subbies have had the carpet pulled from under their feet, writes Nathan Brown.

Unions: Industrial Wasteland
A group of inner-Sydney veterans appear to be working to strip their families of retirement incomes. Jim Marr records their desperation.

International: Two Bob's Worth
German and British workers are participating in business decisions while WorkChoices locks Australians out of the conversation, writes Anthony Forsyth.

Economics: National Interest
John Howard claimed that interest rates would always be lower under a Coalition government than under Labor, Neale Towart crunchess the numbers.

Environment: The Real Dinosaur
Economic ignorance remains at the top and the critics are oblivious says Sol Power

History: Only In Spain?
The experiences of self management during the Civil War have been the one positive factor to come from that tragic event, and the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation thrives today.

Review: Clerk Off
Nathan Brown draws solace from some fellow social misfits.

N E W S

 Medibank Sale "Critical"

 Broken Down and Packaged for Export

 Child's Play: New Low for Spooks

 Judge Lashes Building Laws

 Buy Gum and Masticate on "Associates"

 Bosses on the Barbie

 No Secrets On Union Agenda

 OWS: Better Never Than Late

 Youth Workers Beat AWAs

 Kiwis Demand Shelf Respect

 Meat Man Steaks Claim

 Heinemann Chooses Its Laws

 Air Safety Crashes

 Super-Size Me

 Less is More for Dixon

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

Legends
Westie Wing
MLC Ian West ventures beyond Macquarie St and into the desert of the eco rats.

The Soapbox
Testing Times
Former RLPA secretary and Newcastle Knights prop, Tony Butterfield, fires up over dawn raids.

Obituary
Dare to Win
The union movement has lost an inspirational leader of working men and women, writes Jeana Vithoulkas

Fiction
Tommy's Apprentice
Chapter Two - Tommy’s Tale.

L E T T E R S
 Tony Terrific
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News

Bosses on the Barbie


The battle for a collective agreement at Radio Rentals will move to the well-heeled suburbs of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, this weekend.

Supporters of Radio Rentals technicians, locked out for a month in a bid to starve them onto income-slashing AWAs, will protest outside the homes of company directors.

Footpath community barbecues will be held at 2 Mackillof Rd, Mitcham, South Australia; 6 Braeside St, Wahroonga, NSW; and 4 Florence St, Brighton East, Victoria.

Respectively, those premises are occupied by Radio Rentals company secretary, Barry Walker, and fellow directors, Gavin Hancock and Christopher Riordan.

AMWU national official, Glenn Thompson, said the barbecues would be a "peaceful" means of drawing attention to individuals who hoped to profit from the aggressive use of John Howard's IR laws.

Radio Rentals became a cause celebre for the extreme Right when it broke off collective negotiations with staff and sacked three union activists, including a delegate with 17 years' service.

Because it employs less than 100 people at its Prospect, Adelaide, store, WorkChoices denies anyone the right to launch an unjustified dismissal action.

With the activists out of the way, Radio Rentals hit remaining technicians with non-negotiable AWAs that would cut their incomes.

When technicians imposed a four-hour weekly protest stoppage, after winning the first WorkChoices industrial action ballot in South Australia, Radio Rentals locked them out for a month.

Last week, the company, represented by law firm Minter Ellison that helped Howard draw up his legislation, launched a bid in the Industrial Relations Commission for return to work orders.

The move, labelled "bizarre" by Thompson, dragged out for more than 24 hours, at first by video link to a Perth-based Commissioner, then face-to-face after he flew to Adelaide.

"It was a bizarre effort to stop a community protest," Thompson said. "The fact is, we are not taking any industrial action, we have been locked out for a month."

Eventually, the company withdrew its application.

Thompson says Radio Rentals knows it is in trouble in the court of public opinion.

"After the Commission hearing they came to us and asked us to call off the protest. We agreed, on condition that everyone went back to the status quo which would have meant reinstating our activists and returning to negotiations.

"They refused and the protest went ahead. The support for the technicians was overwhelming," Thompson said.

More than 300 people gathered outside the store and thousands of dollars were raised.

The South Australian Transport Workers and Nurses Unions both wrote out $5000 cheques that will go into a fund to ensure technicians can keep feeding their families.

Sixteen technicians are locked out and another five, who have refused to sign AWAs, are still inside, on light duties, because they can't be dumped while they are on rehabilitation programs.

The plight of Radio Rentals workers has moved the ALP to promise to allow workers a vote on the type of agreement they will be covered by, if it wins office next year.

The new policy, announced by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, would allow workers to take their case to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission if their boss refuses to negotiate collectively.

The Commission would determine whether or not a majority of affected workers wanted to bargain collectively.

If it was convinced a majority existed, it would have the power to order the employer to negotiate.

"If a majority want a collective agreement, they can have it," Beazley said. "If a majority don't, they shouldn't. That's a fair system."

Donations to support Radio Rentals staff can be made at any branch of the National Australia Bank.

The BSB Number is: 082-057

The Account Number is: 86-239-3418


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