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Year End 2005   

Interview: Back to the Future
James Gallaway collars Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, on threats, challenges and opportunities.

Unions: A Real Page Turner
Jim Marr glances through Workers Online’s 2005 news stories and finds there is more one way to skin a Rat

Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
Rachael Osman-Chin profiles a white collar union that is having some almighty blues.

International: Around The World In 365 Days
It was a year of online activism, as LabourStart's Eric Lee reports

Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Jim Marr tackles a champion.

Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
The Your Rights At Work campaign has been a big part of this year and, as Phil Doyle reports, it is making a difference.

Politics: The Year That Was
Frank Stillwell looks at year that saw the politics of fear; and finds many reasons to be very afraid.

Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Evan Jones asks if the Neo Liberals are taking us back to the future

Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Nathan Brown ignores Oasis and decides to look back in anger after all

Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Nathan Brown digs through his voluminous dirt files and comes up with the top 10 grubs of the year.

Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
James Gallaway on the Way, the Truth and life according to Brian.


The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2006.

The Soapbox
The Things People Say
It was a year of quotable quotes, reports Phil Doyle.

The Westie Wing
Ian West checks the rear vision mirror on 2005, and plants his foot down

The Locker Room
The 2005 Workers Online Sports Awards
After years of being overlooked by selectors at club, representative and national levels, Phil Doyle and Jim Marr, agreed to hand out our 2005 sports gongs.

Postcard from East Timor
In East Timor entertainment also spreads an important message into the community


Waves of Destruction
2005 was the year book-ended by two waves of destruction - the first causing untold suffering across the Indian Ocean; the second reawakening our darker angels on beaches closer to home.


 Melbourne Burns AWAs

 Corporates Defend Costello

 Speaker Won't Talk

 Bank Pays on Dodgy Contracts

 Plan to Save Jobs

 Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure

 It's Not Fair: Business

 Workers Walk As Warnings Wiped

 Teenager Hit With Shrapnel

 Pay Day “Unlawful”

 Tassie Rail Win

 Professionals Fear for Their Kids

 Boss Pings Rorters Charter

 New Ways to Take a Share

 An Hour of Need

 Boeing Steals Christmas

 Trouble at the Mill

 Activists What's On

 Pension Pinching
 Free to Rat
 Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
 Proportion, Not Distortion
 Corp That!
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Bad Boss

The Bottom Ten

Nathan Brown digs through his voluminous dirt files and comes up with the top 10 grubs of the year.

The Bad Bosses were out in force, emboldened by the Howard Government. We had them paying wages in five cent coins, wanting their women "work hardened" and , generally, exposing why AWAs are crook. To those who failed to make the cut - take cheer - Workchoices will be around for at least another year.

Bad Boss #10: The Artful Dodgers

Centrelink's staff might have to deal with flying colostomy bags and firebombs from irate customers, but the real abuse this year has come from management. During enterprise agreement negotiations, management has ducked and dodged workers' demands, even going as far as blocking access to union websites and emails. Although an agreement is drawing closer, thanks to some hard work from workers and the CPSU, Centrelink's impression of Muhammad Ali during negotiations earns them a spot on the list.

Bad Boss #9: Fishy Tales

A late contender for this year's awards, fish and chip proprietor Mick Atkins, drew the wrath of 80 Geelong residents after he paid a 16-year-old schoolgirl in five cent pieces. Still, this was a significant improvement on his original offer of not paying her at all. Atkins took issue with her family's requests that he pay up. "I thought it was ridiculous - just really petty," former employee Dharnae Kern said - a good assessment.

Bad Boss #8: American Workplace Agreements

American doughnut manufacturer Krispy Kreme was not content bringing over the fried lard wheels that helped to make the Yew-nited States the fattest nation on earth. It also brought its attitude to workplace relations. Cases surfaced in a Senate Inquiry in August of Krispy Kreme workers being forced to sign AWAs, work 16.5 hour shifts and forgo penalties. According to workers, management refused new employees time to consider AWAs. Oh say can you see...

Bad Boss #7: The Fun Guys

We found out this year what it's like working in a mushroom factory: kept in the dark, and sacked when you ask where all your entitlements have gone. That's what happened to Carmen Walacz Vel Walewska, whose battle with Imperial Mushrooms went to the national media. Carmen was told not to come in after asking her boss why her AWA took away holiday pay, holiday loading, long service leave, sick pay, penalty rates, meal allowance, travel allowance, parental leave, bereavement leave, redundancy, severance entitlements - and paid 40 cents an hour below the award. After attacking Carmen on the Today show, the Fun Guys figured it wasn't a popular position and came to a settlement.

Bad Boss #6: We're Not In Right Now

Sol Trujillo came to Australia with a bold vision. He would turn around Telstra's fortunes by improving customer service. How would he do this? Through sacking a quarter of the workforce. What better way is there of showing the customer you care by having no-one answer phones and longer waiting times because all the technicians have been sacked. It's an amazing management philosophy, Sol.

Bad Boss #5: The High Flying Kangaroo

Qantas celebrated its 85th anniversary as Australia's premier airline by threatening to move 3000 maintenance jobs overseas. Aussie workers are just too well paid, according to chief exec Geoff Dixon, and need to cut their entitlements to compete. No word on whether this would also apply to Geoff's $3 million a year.

Bad Boss #4: The Bank of the 70s

Yep, there are some bad bosses out there. But just like the Your Rights at Work campaign, the bad bosses show people why we need unions. This happened when a campaign by the Finance Sector Union resulted in a $750,000 fine for the Commonwealth Bank. The Federal Court compared its underhand plot to force workers onto individual contracts to "the tax avoidance schemes of the 1970s". It was shifting workers out of the enterprise agreements and onto individual contracts at subsidiary CommSec. These contracts allowed the bank to pay up to 30 per cent less for doing exactly the same job.

Bad Boss #3: Victorian Principles

Plastics manufacturer Kemalex's Managing Director Richard Colebatch is a firm believer in a meaner, leaner workforce. This ideological crusader went public with his gripes about his predominantly female staff, who took issue with his plan to make them 'independent contractors' with no entitlements to things such as penalties, sick leave, annual leave, superannuation, et cetera. Colebatch refused to negotiate with the striking workers and closed down his Melbourne factory, saying the women had lost their physical edge on the picket line. "You've got to understand, they were all sitting on their arses for ten weeks with nothing to do. They all put on 5kg when they came back to work on these machines they weren't work hardened."

Bad Boss #2: The Choice Meister

No one could accuse the Reverend Kevin Andrews of not practicing what he dog whistles. Kev's own department blew the lid on his "choice" line by forcing all new employees to sign AWAs. Fifteen Department of Workplace Relations forms for new staff uncovered by the CPSU had 'yes' boxes already ticked next to the words "I acknowledge my commitment to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement".

But Kev isn't at number two just because of this, after all the department is just doing what it is already allowed to. Kev is also here because under his WorkChoices legislation good bosses, the ones who do the right thing, will most likely have to drive their conditions down to compete with the bad bosses. So in the world of bad bosses, Kev, you're right down there with the lowest of them.

Bad Boss #1: Top Guns

Although there were many contenders for this year's award, none flew lower than Boeing which fired missiles on behalf of the feds. Maintenance workers at Boeing in Newcastle have been on strike for more than 200 days while the company refuses, point-blank, to negotiate with them collectively. Recent hearings in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission revealed Boeing couldn't really explain its preference for individual contracts. Still, it has the full backing of the Prime Minister, and that can be important when you're gunning for multi-million defence contracts. John Howard says Boeing is well within its rights to reject workers' right to choose a collective agreement. So, for forcing workers onto the grass for well over half a year for daring to ask for what is supposed to be a core right, Boeing is our grub of the year.


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