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Issue No. 355 01 December 2006  

Seven Year Itch
For the past seven years, over 335 issues, Workers Online has been chronicling events in the labour movement and passing our judgments on all things union.


Interview: Flying High
The Australian international Pilots Association has rejoined the ACTU and president Ian Woods is taking it into new airspace.

Unions: TUF on Toll
As transport giant Toll expands across the region, unions are working together to boost their bargaining power, writes Jackie Woods.

Industrial: Forward to the Past
Anti-union building laws draw their inspiration from a century ago, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Debt and the Economy
Household debt is at record levels. Interest rates are rising. Production of real things is not increasing. The military generates most demand. How long can it go on?

Obituary: The Charlatanry of Milton Friedman
Evan Jones busts some myths about the grand-daddy of free market economics

Environment: Low Voltage
Nuclear Power and Prime Ministerial Pronouncements are seriously short of a few volts, writes Neale Towart

Legal: The Fair Deal
Anthony Forsyth proposes a social partnership agenda for Australia

Review: A Little History
The Little History of Australian Unionism is exactly that; fifteen thousand words on the topic, writes Rowan Cahill.


 Global Campaign for Jailed Iranian Union Leader

 Bully Tactics Can’t Dull Protests

 Which Bank Slashes Work Rights?

 Sunday’s The Day For Future Rallies

 Carmel Saves Job, Loses Bonus

 Case Dismissed: No Justice in WorkChoices

 China (S)trains Procurement Policy

 Contracts Out on Sole Traders

 Car Companies Do The Dirty

 Historic Case Restores Security

 Final Hurdle for Medibank Sell-Off


The Soapbox
Address to the Nation
ACTU secretary Greg Combet's speech to the National Day of Action

The Westie Wing
Ian West recalls a time when the earth was flat, unions ran the country and Honest John Howard was the workers’ best friend.

Sick System
Punitive IR laws and a commercially-driven workers compensation scheme are conspiring to bully injured workers, writes Dr Con Costa.

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Which Bank Slashes Work Rights?

Australia’s largest bank launched a WorkChoices offensive this week – denying staff time off to attend Thursday’s Your Rights at Work rallies and introducing a standard, bank-wide AWA which drastically reduces conditions.

The Finance Sector Union wrote to the bank requesting permission for staff to take time off to attend the union-organised day of action against new IR laws. Permission was denied, said FSU national secretary Paul Schroder.

In the same week, the bank began offering new and existing staff an AWA individual contract that does away with a raft of long-held award conditions including overtime payments, shift penalties, weekend and public holiday loadings and rostered days off.

It also waters down redundancy and parental leave rights and gives the employer carte blanche over work duties, hours and location.

The Commonwealth Bank becomes the first major employer to introduce AWAs on a large scale.

It is also the largest employer in the finance sector and its move to cut costs by attacking employees' conditions will create pressure for other workers to do the same, said Schroder.

"It is a wake up call to all people working in the finance industry, who until now may have thought they were immune from the laws."

The bank has made clear to the union that the AWA meets the legal requirements of the Federal Government's extreme IR laws, demonstrating how unfair and extreme the new laws are, said Schroder.

The union is calling on the bank to withdraw the AWAs and advising all members not to sign any AWA without first consulting their union, he said.

The ACTU has attacked the Commonwealth Bank's introduction of AWA's and challenged the bank to conduct a staff ballot over whether workers want an individual job contract or a collective agreement.

"The Commonwealth Bank is one of Australia's biggest and most profitable companies. It made nearly $4 billion profit last year and employs 35,000 staff around Australia," said

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.

"It is unnecessary and unacceptable that hard working employees in bank branches as well as in call centres and back-office operations are facing major cuts to their basic job conditions.

"But that is exactly what big companies are being encouraged to do under the Federal Government's IR laws."

The biggest losers under the AWAs would be workers with family responsibilities, with maternity leave at the employer's discretion, the removal of standard hours of work and employer control over work location, said Combet.


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