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Issue No. 329 20 October 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Sucking the Oranges
Every three years the Australian union movement comes together for a gathering that is part policy forum, part Jamboree, the ACTU Congress.

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 – 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

 Bananas in the Mail

 Dragons Slay St George

 Collective Contracts Still Rule

 Boeing Bombs Individual Contracts

 Multis Raid Nest Eggs

 "Guests" Stood Over, AMWU

 Aunty Off the Air

 Ban Ki-Moon, Koreans Warn

 Super Shafting at Telstra

 Qantas IT calls Bangalore home

 Three Question Method

 AWAs: Kids Stuff

C O L U M N S

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a walk around the backyard with the Prime Minister…

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

Collective Contracts Still Rule


Almost triple the number of workers have signed up to collective as individual agreements since the Federal Government's new IR laws were introduced in March.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews spruiked the figures as a victory for 'freedom of choice' for workers to enter into the full range of agreements.

But Professor David Peetz, industrial relations expert at Griffith University, disagreed - saying only workers in unionised workplaces had any choice over the kind of agreement they sign.

Of almost 440,000 employees covered by agreements registered since March, 30% are on Australian Workplace Agreements, 58% are on union collective agreements and 12% are on non-union collective agreements.

The rise in non-union agreements is significant because it offers employers a way around union involvement in negotiation and doesn't require all workers' agreement, said Peetz,

"Before WorkChoices was introduced an average of 18,000 employees a quarter were covered by these agreements. This has risen to 33,000 in the quarter to September," he said.

"They're a means by which unions can be bypassed. You don't have to agree to be covered by it... you can vote no but if 50% plus one of people in your workplace vote for it you're covered."

Workers in unionised workplaces had the most choice in the kind of agreement they entered into - with most choosing unionised collective agreements.

"Employers realise that there's not much sense in offering AWAs to a unionised workforce, in most cases if workers have got union coverage they'll get a collective agreement, so will the non-union members in that workplace," said Peetz.

ABS figures showed that while 23% of Australian members were unionised, 38% are covered by union agreements.


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