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Issue No. 334 24 November 2006  

It’s Who The Economy Works For, Stupid
As the movement prepares for the National Day of Action on November 30, we embark on the third, final and, perhaps most difficult phase of the Rights at Work campaign.


Interview: Common Ground
Nature Conservation Council director Cate Faehrmann on the fight against global warming and how unions and greens can learn from each other.

Industrial: A Low Act
The Low Paid. The Fair Pay Commission knows who pays them. We can do something about it as they will not.

Unions: The Number of the Least
Forget 666 - 457 is looming as the scariest number for Aussie workers and their families, Jim Marr writes.

Politics: The Smoking Gun
Hayek's henchman, Raplph Harris, goes to free market heaven, writes Evan Jones

Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
They are supposed to ensure the wealth of well-being of individuals. Whats wrong with that? asks Neale Towart

Environment: Low Voltage
Nuclear Power and Prime Ministerial pronouncements are seriously short of a few volts, wrties Neal Towart

History: The Art of Social Justice
Tom Martin was a terrific cartoonist and part of a great tradition in labour movement history and culture, swrties Neale Towart.

Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
It pays the bills – usually – but going to work should come with a warning, wrties Jackie Woods.

Culture: A Forgotten Poet
There is little information on the public record about the radical working class poet Ernest Antony, writes Rowan Cahill.


 OWS: Cash for Query Scam

 Watchdog Bites Own Pups

 Silver Lining to Qantas Storm

 Wages Heading South Under WorkChoices

 Hardies Finally Coughs Up

 Face Up to Save Harbour

 STOP PRESS: Workers Docked for Meeting Pollies

 Telstra Redundancies ‘Inhumane’

 AWAs Carpeted

 Contracts Shut Down

 ILO Gets Tough on Forced Labour

 Houston Win Sparks Hope for New Era

 Full List of November 30 Venues


The Soapbox
Robbo Goes Green
John Robertson's speech to the Walk Against Warming

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at a former public institution and its contribution to NSW.

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Watchdog Bites Own Pups

As workers around the nation prepare to rally on November 30 workers in the Howard Government’s own employment rights watchdog are feeling the bite of WorkChoices

A Howard appointee to the Federal Court has upheld a decision by a federal government department to ban its own staff from attending next week’s Your Rights at Work rally in their own time.

Management at the Office of Employment Advocate (OEA), the government department charged with the maintenance and promotion of individual contracts, issued a blanket ban on all staff taking leave on Thursday 30 November.

In an internal memo dated 18 October, OEA Corporate Director Ann Skarratt stated that "(all) leave (including flex leave) will not be approved for staff to participate in the 'National Day of Community' protest."

Despite getting his flex application in early, OEA staff member and CPSU member Greg McCarron's request to have the morning off was denied by management, citing the department-wide policy to ban all leave on November 30.

Undeterred, McCarron pressed on. "I fail to see the difference between using my flexible working conditions to go shopping for a couple of hours, having a very long lunch, or going to listen to some speakers for a couple of hours," he reasoned in an e-mail to Skarratt.

CPSU and McCarron sought an injunction against the leave ban before the Federal Court, however recent Government appointee Justice Cowdroy today ruled against the application, upholding the OEA's decision.

National Secretary Stephen Jones is disappointed at the outcome and his union is seeking to appeal the decision to a full-bench.

"If this decision stands, it would confirm that every employer now has the right to determine how staff spend their time on their day off," he said.

"No-one is disputing the right of employers to determine when leave can be taken, but it's curious that this blanket ban is only taking place on November 30."

"It looks like another attempt by the Government to thwart its own staff expressing their concerns at the effect of their extreme industrial laws," Jones said.

It is not the first time the OEA has been accused of pushing the Government's political agenda under the guise of public service independence.

At a recent senate estimates hearing, OEA boss Peter McIllwain confirmed that his department would no longer collect data on the loss of award conditions under new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA).

The Government had been embarrassed by its own data that showed the majority of WorkChoices AWA has stripped award conditions, such as 63% of new individual contracts that scrapped penalty rates.


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