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Issue No. 327 06 October 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

The Road to Bangalore
A funny thing is happening as the major corporations plan their latest heist on the Australian public ´┐Ż the off shoring of an estimated two million white collar jobs to low cost countries like India.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Finance Sector Union national secretary Paul Schroder is standing between the big banks and a bucket of money.

Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Chris Christodoulou gives seven reasons why WorkChoices is bad for business

Unions: The IT Factor
The future of Australian IT looks grim as big companies lead the rush to India and China, writes Jackie Woods.

Politics: Bargain Basement
Simple principles of democracy underpin the ACTU's collective bargaining proposal, insists ACTU Secrteary Greg Combet.

Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Al Gore may be warning of climate breakdown, but what hope the truth when he's up against such a well-oiled machine? asks Paul Sheridan

Corporate: Two Sides
Bilateral trade agreements are a good idea ´┐Ż just ask the US multinationals. The rest of us should strongly disagree says Pat Ranald

International: Unfair Dismissals
Nearly 10,000 workers were fired for their trade union activities in 2005, an annual trade union survey shows.

History: A Stitch in Time
Neale Towart takes some lessons from female textile workers while considering the case for recognition ballots.

Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
A film charting the turmoil of the Irish war for independence against British occupation during the 1920s might seem an odd choice for top honours at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

N E W S

 OWS Blesses Tassie Plunder

 Feds Knew About Wage Slashing

 Data Farmers' Bitter Harvest

 Umpire Delivers to Posties

 It's a Goal - Compass Out-Pointed

 Childcare Giant Goes Union

 Meat Head Jumps The Queue

 AWAs ´┐Ż Thanks a Million

 Vets´┐Ż Fight On

 TB Threat From FoC Ship

 Hamberger in Cancer Blue

 AMWU Challenges Forced Deportation

 Let´┐Żs Dance ´┐Ż Andrews Get Hot

 Legal Centres Under Threat

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a walk around the backyard with the Prime Minister´┐Ż

The Soapbox
Rise Up
Hugo Chavez's explosive address to the United Nations

Culture
The Fear Factor
A new analysis of the history of fear takes us from the war on terror all the way to the modern workplace.

L E T T E R S
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News

Feds Knew About Wage Slashing


When it introduced WorkChoices, the federal government knew its laws could be used to slash the wages and conditions of existing staff, says Flinders University Law Professor, Andrew Stewart.

While many observers believed Employer Greenfields ´┐ŻAgreements´┐Ż could only apply to brand new operations, Stewart says Canberra knew they could be used to disadvantage existing staff.

"The way the transmission of business laws were changed and the introduction of these (Employer Greenfields) Agreements made this likely," Professor Stewart said.

"Together, they were intended to allow employers to do exactly as United Petroleum has done in Tasmania.

"Whether it is a good or a bad thing is another matter that depends on your point of view."

As John Howard was running a $55 million WorkChoices publicity campaign, around the themes of mutual agreement and protected award conditions, Stewart and others were telling a Senate Committee what would happen in the real world.

"In Tasmania, we have a company that's trying to exploit possibilities that are available within the WorkChoices scheme," Stewart said.

"They are changing employment conditions without the consent of the relevant workers. That is the bit that is indisputable.

"That, to me, is not an accident. It's a deliberate design element within WorkChoices.

"If Government didn't realise at the time it drafted the legislation, I would be surprised. But it certainly knew after the Senate hearings and went ahead."

Stewart says timing is the key for employers who want to trash award payments and conditions by this mechanism.

They have to get a number of elements of their corporate restructure exactly right of they will be left with the award, or agreement, they were trying to dodge.

He warned the manoeuvring had the potential to be "messy" and that Australians may never know whether United Petroleum-Norvac had got it right.

"If this doesn't come to court we may never know the full facts about whether it was legal or not," he said.

Professor Stewart is a former Dean of Law at Flinders University. He is an Australian authority on employment law and a legal consultant to Piper Alderman.


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