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April 2006   

Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ainít Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourneís Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.


Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.


The Cowra Clause
The plight of the Cowra meatworkers is a fitting illustration of the way the new industrial laws will fundamentally shift the balance of relations in the Australian workplace.


 Abattoir Boss Slaughters Andrews

 More Slaughter in South Australia

 Pickets Won't Face Cannon

 Teens Win Thousands

 Praise the Laws

 Where The Bloody Hell Is Our Contract?

 Building Crusade Raids Pockets

 Workers Shows Its Hand

 It's All Yellow, Mine Barons

 Lismore Nine Breaks Ranks

 Uber Bosses Clean Up

 Howard's Skills Solution: Sack Apprentices

 Spineless Companies Block Safety

 Boxall in Sickie Backflip

 Activist's What's On!

 Crap TV
 Social Action
 French revolution
 Fan Mail
 Belly Spreads The Word
 All Out!
 Lying Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
 Help Wanted
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The Westie Wing

There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Premier, Morris Iemma is settling into his new role in the Parliament. The Premier has been giving some solid answers in the 'Bear Pit' and he's warming to the task.

The Opposition still appears to be incapable of providing alternative policy or even get its teeth into some of the hard issues.

Some of the more interesting goings on include a reference to the Social Issues Committee.

As a member of that committee, I'm really looking forward to hearing from people during the recently announced inquiry into the impact of the Federal IR laws on the NSW community.

The terms of reference require the committee to look into and report on the ability of workers to genuinely bargain, focusing on groups such as women, youth and casual employees and the impact upon wages, conditions and security of employment.

The inquiry will assess the impact on rural communities, on gender equity including pay gaps, on injured workers. It will look at the balance between work and family responsibilities.

Importantly we will also look into the impact on employers, especially small business.

I can't canvass more than that at this stage.

I encourage interested people and organisations to make written submissions to the Committee Secretariat. The closing date is 26th May.

There was also a debate on Trade Unionism in the Upper House where the Opposition advocated for individual agreements yet again, whilst they themselves still cling whenever and wherever possible to any benefits the collective offers them.

I couldn't resist a go at them and their Federal colleagues. There are representatives from Employers First, the Retail Traders' Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Master Builders Association, the Bar Association, the Australian Medical Association, Queensland Canegrowers and the Institute of Public Affairs to name but a few of the 50 to 60 employer unions represented by members of the Federal Cabinet. The list goes on and on.

This group supposedly champions individual bargaining. These people say they are all individuals, but their tactics and actions betray them. History does not demonstrate that this Federal Cabinet, or any previous Federal Conservative Cabinet, is anything but collectivist.

There is however, an exception for those who deem themselves born to rule - the Federal Government does not want workers to act collectively. It wants workers, employees, people with the least bargaining power, the most vulnerable in the community, to be individuals.

But Members of the Federal Cabinet go out of their way to ensure that whatever they do, wherever they do it, they do it in a collective fashion.

The WorkChoices legislation was passed in the two Houses of Federal Parliament by people who are members of an organisation that goes to the very heart of collectivism.

The issue of the NSW Government Procurement Policy has also been canvassed. It's a thorny issue but it's not too hard and it can work for everyone when it's done right. The Government Cleaning Contract issue is a case in point.

When the Minister John Della Bosca announced agreement had been reached with the Union on the 2005 School Cleaning contract he said, ""Where site areas increase through additional facilities the contractors will be required to employ additional hours on the site, not simply load up cleaners with more duties..."

And later "These arrangements and the Government's determination to improve the OH&S performance will be welcomed by the cleaners."

Governments can't divorce themselves from their industrial relations responsibilities. Governments who are responsible for producing the tender documents, accepting the tender and paying the price are responsible for the actions of the Contractors.

For me, taking employees out of the industrial equation is like trying to take pregnancy out of the maternity ward.

We know the Federal Government nevers shirks from dictating terms to any organisation it employs or contracts. The "no AWA, no contract" clause in their Federal Budgets is just one example.

I'm also keen to keep hearing from people in relation to the Hillsong issue. Thank you for your support, information and enquiries.

I have recently added 'vote on an issue' and 'blog' facilities to my website. I'm hopeful that this technology's possibilities and capabilities will be of some benefit in eliciting views, feedback, information and ideas.

The address is - so let me know what you think. Your encouragement and criticism are equally valued.

If you require assistance accessing information from a NSW Government Department or a Minister, or have feedback and ideas for speeches, or if you believe you know an issue that should be looked at by one of the Parliamentary committees, contact me at Parliament House on (02) 9230 2052 or email [email protected]


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