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  Issue No 85 Official Organ of LaborNet 23 February 2001  

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News

Opera Workers Join Freeloader Chorus


Stage crew and designers at Opera Australia want a service fee levied against freeloaders as part of their next agreement.

The backstage staff lodged the claim with Opera Australia management this week as anger against those who refuse to pay for the work going into wage negotiations continues to grow.

NSW Media and Entertainment Alliance state secretary Michel Hryce says the Opera Australia performers are also considering a similar claim.

The service fee push has gathered pace since the Australian Industrial relations Commission last week upheld the legal validity of a $500 service fee levied by the Victorian ETU.

Hryce says the issue is being driven from the shop floor and has sparked spirited debate at a workplace level about the importance of union membership.

"What we're finding is that in workplaces where the union is working well with the membership, the momentum is building," Hryce says.

"In fact, with Opera Australia its quite likely that by the time the agreement is finalized we'll have 100 per cent membership and won't have to levy a fee against anyone."

Abbott Preparing to Flex Muscles

The service fee push is gathering momentum as new Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott flagged he would change the law if the AIRC decision is not overturned on appeal.

Abbott has told Workers Online he is confident that the Democrats would approve the changes on the basis that were against the notion of compulsory unionism.

He says the idea is not a legitimate fee for service situation. "There is no analogy between what the unions do for people in a particular workforce and what a doctor might do for someone who comes in to get his injury bandaged because if they weren't there there would not be a pay rise," Abbott says.

"In many enterprises the only practical way to get a pay rise is for the union to negotiate some kind of agreement, is because of a culture which has been in there for a century or more, whereby the bosses will only talk to the unions."

Concerted Drive on Union Service Fees

Meanwhile, NSW unions will develop a joint strategy to promote service fees in majority-unionised workplaces, including pooling resources to fight any legal battles that may emerge.

The meeting has been called as branches adopt the user-pay fee as official policy and prepare to test the proposition under NSW legislation.

One affiliate, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers has called on Labor Council to consider funding any future legal action the ETU faces on the issue.

AIMPEE Secretary Andrew Williamson says all ACTU affiliates should share the funding on a pro rata basis.


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*   Issue 85 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Tony Abbott – Workers' Friend?
The new Workplace Relations minister relives his own union background and explains why he’s really just another worker at heart. Honestly.
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*  Politics: The Politics of Petrol
Australia might be burning, but is it a fire that can be brought under control?
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*  Organising: The Battle of Campsie
SDA delegate Maria Kavaratzis recounts how the Campsie Big W has been transformed into a union shop.
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*  History: Scabbing Through the Ages
Neale Towart looks back at how popular culture has treated those workers who have not considered themselves part of the collective.
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*  International: Diary of a Showdown
The Korean Metal Workers Federation recounts a week which culminated in violent attacks on workers outside the Daewoo factory.
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*  Economics: Debt Dumping Campaign Enters New Phase
The millennial deadline might have passed, but Jubilee 2000 is not giving up the fight for debt cancellation for the world’s fifty-two poorest countries.
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*  Health: The Real Drug Wars
As Africa attempts to deal with the HIV crisis, access to the medicines that can relieve victims’ suffering is emerging as a major humanitarian issue.
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*  Satire: Liberals Claim Triumph in Queensland
John Howard has claimed the Liberal Party’s decimation in Western Australia and Queensland as a triumphant vindication of his party’s embracing of the national competition policy.
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*  Review: Beyond a White Australia
As we ponder the One Nation renaissance, a new book challenges the current debates around xenophobia and the perceived threat of danger from Asia.
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News
»  Labor To Move on Outsourcing Scams
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»  Opera Workers Join Freeloader Chorus
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»  Independent Eyes for Asbestos Deal
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»  Employment Records Must Be Protected
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»  Workers to Float Down Oxford Street
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»  Competitive Tendering Hits Welfare Sector
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»  Violence Hits Indonesian Dispute
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»  Locked Out, ‘Cause The Boss Won’t Talk
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»  New Laws To Protect Carers
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»  Acoustic Shock Cases Tip of the Iceberg
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»  Teachers Fed Gives Free Membership to Students
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»  Miners Union Calls for ‘Community Dividend’
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»  Hanson's Nursing Plan Bad for Health
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»  Refugee Plight Focus of NESB Network
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»  Unions Pause On New Safety Laws
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»  Heavy Handed Tactics Leave Speedo Workers Exposed
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»  Activists Notebook
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»  Vale: Charlie Fitzgibbon (1922-2001)
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  No Shrinking Violet
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»  Service Fees a Cop Out
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»  Not Quite Right on Discrimination
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»  Explaining it to Pauline
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»  The Canada Bay Debacle
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