Sunday, May 27, 2007

40 years ago: 1967 Referendum

May Day March in Queensland prior to 1967 Referendum

The sign on the BLF float reads:

For The Aboriginals on
MAY 27th.

On May 27th 1967 after years of campaigning there was a Referendum to change the Commonwealth Constitution which up until then had said:

"The Parliament shall … have powers to make laws for peace, order, and good government [for] the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State". Another clause said that "In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth … aboriginal natives shall not be counted".

The 1967 referendum achieved the highest ever Yes vote of close to 91%

Australian Council of Salaried and Prefessional Associations (ACSPA) campaign leaflet

Progressive unions in Australia have a long history of support for Aboriginal rights and the 1967 Referendum campaign was certainly part of that.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: "Today marks the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum where over 90% of Australians voted to give the Federal Government power to make laws for indigenous Australians.

The referendum was a major milestone in the long struggle by indigenous Australians for justice and paved the way for equal rights and equal pay for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

I congratulate the many people who helped achieve such a tremendous victory in the 1967 referendum.

But it must be acknowledged that the high hopes that accompanied the referendum have not been realized, despite the best efforts of the many indigenous leaders since that time.

The continuing high level of disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a national disgrace.

The 17 year gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is probably our nation’s most shameful statistic.

After eleven years in office, the Howard Government has no one else to blame for the inadequate health services, poor community infrastructure and lack of education and employment opportunities that still beset indigenous communities," said Ms Burrow.

May 28Illustration: Bruce Petty

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bathurst Turns Its Back On Howard

Over 400 of us gathered outside the Carrington restaurant in Bathurst at lunchtime today and delivered a stunning protest against J-Ho's visit to the Central West NSW city of Bathurst.

It was a great turnout in the middle of a working day, with people from all walks of life taking time out to be a part of the welcoming committee at Howard's $95.00 a head noshery fundraiser for local Liberal Loser Kerry Bartlett.

The festive mood with Australian music and humourous chanting turned powerfully eerie when Howard arrived, with the crowd, many bearing signs, turning it's back on Howard in a prolonged silent protest.

The silence was held both as a sign of contempt for Mr Howard, and as a time to reflect on the thousands of Australians that have been burnt by J-Ho's laws.

Howard looked awkward and uncomfortable facing the backs of 400 silent Australians who waited until he was about to enter the silver service eatery before they silence was broken by the cry..."Let him have it!"

Then 400 voices roared in unison for workers rights.

When asked what they were here for, the crowd roared "WORKERS RIGHTS!" Then asked will we win, the crowd roared back "YES!"

Even a two person pro-Howard protest fizzled into muteness in the face of such an awesome display of unified strength.

Prior to this the crowd had laughed as they were warned to "keep an eye on purses and wallets" as Kerry Bartlett was present.

There was more mirth as a nervous Kerry Bartlett was stung by comments from the crowd regarding his chances in the upcoming election and his blatant pork-barrelling in an area where he isn't even the local member. Advice was given about how he could find his way home while he played with his cuffs and hopped from foot to foot at the doorway of the restaurant, before edging his way inside. Then the Police Association were complimented on providing such a strong picket-line!

It was a show of strength of force and discipline with which the Bathurst community should be proiud. Many of those attending signed up to get involved with the local rights at work group.

This certainly won't be the last opportunity to greet Mr Howard in Macquarie in the looming landslide, and if today's effort is anything to go by, then we have found a way to welcome John Howard to our community, with silent contempt.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Don't Mention WorkChoices!

May 20Illustration: Matt Golding

ABCC: Unions to boycott industry roundtable

The CFMEU has called on all unions to boycott an industry roundtable organised by the Australian Building and Construction Commission because of a spate of prosecutions of individual workers.

CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan said unions should boycott the meeting, to be held in Melbourne today, because of the ABCC¹s heavy-handed tactics aimed at individual workers.

"The ABCC is engaged in systematic intimidation and bullying of individual workers in the construction industry. This Government body has the power to fine workers for taking action to defend their wages and conditions and to gaol workers who take part in union meetings and refuse to cooperate with secret government interrogations," Mr Noonan said.

With 107 West Australian workers already facing fines of more than $28,000, a series of incidents have raised concerns about the ABCC¹s abuse of civil liberties,

"We have just learned that five workers are being prosecuted by the ABCC after protesting against substandard conditions, including allegations of fly-blown food, on a John Holland project in western NSW in 2005," Mr Noonan said.

This follows the prosecution of Victorian grandfather Charlie Corbett for standing up for an apprentice and the harassment of single mother Brodene Wardley for representing her workmates in a safety dispute.

It is also believed the ABCC is planning further actions against individual workers in Victoria.

"All Australians should be concerned that this approach will become the Howard Government's model for all working Australians to take away your rights and launch personal legal action if you stand up for yourself."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bastard Boys creates stir!

Sue Smith's ABC mini-series about the 1998 dispute between Patrick Stevedores and the Maritime Union of Australia has got John Howard (and his megaphones in the press) charging the ABC with 'leftwing bias' again.

"One of the most lopsided pieces of political propaganda I've seen on the national broadcaster in years" Howard told a business lunch in Cairns.

More interesting is the broad support for the series:

Mike Carlton (Sydney Morning Herald):

Bastard Boys, the ABC's drama about the 1998 waterfront war, has aroused the entirely predictable fury of the ABC-haters. Their attack has been two-pronged. One, to sneer that the show was a turgid melodrama and a waste of money. Two, to screech that the whole thing was a nefarious left-wing conspiracy to damage the Howard Government in this election year.

Me, I thought it was terrific. On a technical level, it was elegantly directed and shot: for one thing, it takes high cinematographic art to light an entire dockyard at night. The script hummed along, with appropriate moments of tension and light relief. Writers and actors did a masterful job of capturing the authentic cadences of Australian dialogue.

Having spent some time covering that brawl between Patrick and the Maritime Union, I'm also prepared to say that, allowing for reasonable dramatic licence, Bastard Boys got the story about right. If anything, the Howard Government escaped rather lightly.

Playwright Stephen Sewell:

"Bastard Boys is drama. It might be drama about real events, but it is still drama. It is not a news report, it is not a documentary, and the standards of fairness and balance that might apply to those media have never applied to drama. Where is the balance in Macbeth? Who would ask Tom Keneally to give a more rounded and sympathetic portrayal of the Nazis in Schindler's List? Drama springs from passion and determination to tell a good story exploring the themes of what it is to be a human being in a world of conflict. And as soon as authorities - whether Government or Church - start telling writers and artists how to practice their art, that's when it ceases to be art and turns instead into propaganda."

Friday, May 18, 2007

AWAs: new form of wage slavery?

The Howard government is well known for deceit and trickery even by it's own members, but the gang of lawyers who make up Howard's cabinet appear to have reached a new low when it comes to the hidden nature of their AWAs. No wonder the big corporations want to keep them!

See Sydney Morning Herald revelation below:

The Government believes Labor's plan to allow workers to opt out of a contract if they are unhappy with its conditions would be unconstitutional.

The Herald understands the Government has legal advice that allowing a worker to withdraw from a legally binding workplace contract would breach constitutional protections on the acquisition of property rights.

If Labor was elected and changed the law to allow workers to opt out of existing AWAs, the law would be open to a High Court challenge. "If there's a contract in place, the Government can't make a law that unpicks a contract without it being challenged," a source said.

The Government believes the legal dilemma is holding up Labor's policy of abolishing AWAs and implementing transitional arrangements for workers already on the individual agreements.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Howard panic: 'WorkChoices' disappears!

Staff employed to provide information about the federal government's controversial workplace relations laws are being told not to use their official title, WorkChoices.

The government's WorkChoices website says workers wanting answers should ring the "Workplace Infoline", although some pages on the site still tell people to ring the "Work Choices Infoline".

However documents leaked to AAP suggest the government is trying to distance itself from the official name for the laws, as polling indicates they are unpopular with many Australians.

Posters tell workplace hotline operators "all references to WorkChoices should now be changed to workplace relations".

"If a client is confused because of the new name, you should indicate they have called the correct number and clarify that our name has changed to make it easier for people to get information," a guide for operators says.

"In all instances a client should be referred to the workplace website, not to the WorkChoices website."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Combet: Polls Vindicate IR stand

Greg Combet says strong opinion polls indicate the party should not change its industrial relations policy.

Mr Combet says the business sector's recent criticism of Labor's pledge to scrap Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) is not reflected in the general electorate.

"There's still a lot of opposition to the government's industrial relations laws," he said.

"That's one of the reasons that there's a lot of support for Labor in the electorate, and I think the concept that the industrial relations policy that Labor's now announced is now, in some way, a problem for Labor, is frankly absurd."

The mining sector is the biggest critic of Labor's pledge to scrap AWAs.

But Mr Combet says it is the mining companies who should consider a change of attitude.

"Will they respect the right of employees individually to freely choose to be a member of a union and to be represented by a union, and secondly will they respect the right of employees to collectively bargain if the majority of them want it?" he asked.

"I think if they can come to grips with those two important rights for employees there's every chance of coming up with a really good industrial relations system.

"It's just not surprising that companies like Rio Tinto have objected to the Labor Party's industrial relations policy when that policy respects international human rights."


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Building bosses desparate to keep their court

Building workers today accused the Master Builders Association of playing politics with the industry by pressuring the ALP to continue with the discredited Australian Building and Construction Commission.

CFMEU construction national secretary Dave Noonan said the performance of the ABCC to date has been one of biased prosecutions and the use of extraordinary powers that, in the construction industry, suspend basic rights such as the right to silence.

Mr Noonan said the ABCC had summoned in a new era where individuals are harassed and punished, with 107 workers currently facing fines of more than $26,800.

"By all means argue for the continuation of the ABCC on the basis that workers in the construction industry should not have the rights to bargain collectively for decent wages and safe conditions nor basic civil rights like the right to silence," Mr Noonan said.

"But be honest enough to cast this as a political argument about the shift of profits in the industry from workers to the employer, not about some high matter of principle."

Mr Noonan challenged the MBA to show where there was any correlation between the activities of the ABCC and the productivity of the industry.

"What the Australian building and construction industry needs is a long term plan for building a skilled and engaged workforce, not a quasi-police force to beat workers around the head.

"There is no place for the ABCC in the Australian construction industry. Labor should stick to its guns and disband it."


Howard: bullying schools campaign

Poll shows Labor IR plan a winner!

A Newspoll out today shows the Government has not secured its expected bounce from last week's widely hyped budget. In fact the bounce went against the government, displaying the maturity of voters when faced with smoke and mirrors.

On the two-party-preferred vote, Labor has climbed 2 percentage points to 59 per cent, while the Government has fallen 2 points to 41 per cent.

Labor's primary vote is up 2 points to 50 per cent and Mr Rudd has climbed 3 points to 49 per cent, while Mr Howard is down 2 points to 37 per cent.

Greens leader Bob Brown today said the latest Newspoll showed voters supported Mr Rudd's approach to industrial relations.

He called on Mr Rudd not to be swayed by aggressive campaigns by big business wanting the Work Choices system kept in place.

"Those opinion polls give a very strong message to Kevin Rudd - stick with your policy on industrial relations," Senator Brown told reporters.

"The position Labor has is valued and it shouldn't be eroded by campaigns from the big end of town and from (Prime Minister) John Howard and his ministers."


Friday, May 11, 2007

Budget: year of the election

May 10 Illustration: Ron Tandberg

ABS data proves Govt wrong

Jobs growth is lower than before new IR laws
ACTU, Thursday, 10 May 2007

Today's ABS data reveals that the number of new jobs created over the past year is less than were created in the year to April 2005, prior to the release of the Government's new IR laws.

This proves the Federal Government is wrong to claim its IR laws have created jobs and instead shows that the mining boom is the most important driver of Australia's economy said the ACTU.

ABS Labour Force data released today shows that there were 44,000 fewer jobs created last year than in 2004-05 prior to the new IR laws being introduced n March 2006.

ABS seasonally adjusted data shows 309,600 jobs were created in the year to April 2007 while 353,600 jobs were created in the year to April 2005.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today:

"The Federal Government has wrongly tried to claim that getting rid of workers' protections against unfair dismissal has been good for job creation.

But today's data shows there is actually no credible link between the IR laws and job creation.

In fact, the Federal Government's IR laws leave workers exposed to big reductions in wages and conditions or the loss of their jobs when the mining boom is over."


Budget: Scene of Prosperity

May 11 Illustration: Michael Leunig

Federal budget fails manufacturing workers

The federal budget announced this week has once again delivered little in the way of gains for working people.

AMWU National Secretary Dave Oliver said it was disappointing that there was no significant investment in manufacturing despite all the spin by the Howard Government in the last few weeks.

"There is no vision, no plan to revive the manufacturing industry and no new commitment to investing in innovation.

Little is offered to reverse an almost 60% drop in Australia's productivity growth compared to the OECD average under the Howard Government.

Even business groups have drawn attention to the lack of support for research and development and infrastructure in this Budget.

Mr Oliver labeled the tax cuts of $14 a week as a "joke."

"Fourteen dollars a week will not compensate families whose take home pay has been cut by the new IR laws and who have to pay the higher interest rates that John Howard lied about last election."

"And once again this government shows its true colours by granting bigger tax cuts to the wealthy."


CPSU: Budget and the ABC

10 May 2007

The budget is bad news for the ABC. In a budget awash with spending promises in the lead up to the federal election, the Government has again punished the ABC.

Costello's twelfth budget increased government appropriations on programming ('providing distinctive radio programs', 'presenting TV programs' and 'engaging audiences through new media services') by a measly 2.26%.

The increase does not cover the 4% EB wage increase for the 2007/08 year nor does it cover increased program purchase costs or increases in goods and services bought by the ABC.

The ABC was provided with some additional tied funding for the roll out of digital radio services. The money cannot be used for general ABC expenditure.


Budget betrays public school students

09 May 2007
By Maree O'Halloran
NSW Teachers Federation President

Public school and TAFE College students are betrayed in Peter Costello's twelfth budget which provides no real increase in funding to public education. The federal government's education priorities are completely wrong and deliberately misguided.

With a record surplus, the federal government has chosen to bypass the 2.3 million students in public schools and the 1.3 million in TAFE Colleges across Australia. Only public education is open and available to all students regardless of family background, faith and level of income.

Over the next five years public schools will only receive an increase of $300 million. Private schools will be given almost six times as much - $1.7 billion. The Federal Coalition Government has exponentially increased per student funding to private schools since 1996.

For every one dollar of direct federal recurrent expenditure per public school student, the federal government spent the following on a private school student:

1996 $1.00 per public school student $3.50 per private school student
2001-4 $1.00 $4.00
2005-8 $1.00 $5.00
2009-12 $1.00 approx $6.00

These increases are clear policy directions not enrolment changes.

Public schools need an extra $2.9 billion in recurrent annual funding from federal and state governments (MCEETYA report). The federal government has ignored this shortfall and the problems arising from chronic under funding. Early childhood has also missed out in this budget. There are also no increases for TAFE.


Costello budget misses the boat

09 May 2007

MUA media release -

Govt fails to invest in clean, green shipping

Despite the Costello budget's $23 billion dollar investment in Auslink transport infrastructure and a few million towards combating global warming, the Howard Government has missed the boat on climate change. Not a penny is earmarked for what is already the cleanest and greenest form of transportation available - shipping - much less the much heralded new innovations in solar and wind powered vessels which are capturing the public imagination worldwide.

Shipping supports 28.15 per cent of Australia's domestic freight task, but contributes to just 2 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector, according to a report published by the Australian Shipowners' Association "Sea Transport Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions".

Yet shipping remains the missing link in each successive federal budget and does not even feature in its Auslink national transport infrastructure program. Nor is there any money invested in innovation despite visionaries here and abroad already investigating a return to sail - such as the German Skysails technology harnessing parachutes to traditional freighters to cut reliance on fossil fuels or the award winning sun and wind powered tankers proposed by Australian innovators Solar Sailor.

"As always the government has failed to invest the budget windfall and global resources boom in any serious infrastructure innovations and missed the boat in creating a low emission economy," said National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

"How can you have a national transport scheme called Auslink with no shipping component? And how can you pretend to be concerned with global warming when you only put money back into the highest carbon producing transport mode - roads and ignore the more environmentally friendly options? "


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Budget 2007: what it hides!

Now in a tight election year, the Government is trying to hide the extent of the surplus. Thus the underlying budget cash surplus doesn't include the revenue from the Future Fund — estimated to be $2 billion in 2006-07 and $3 billion in 2007-08 — to give a true underlying cash balance of $15.7 billion and $13.6 billion respectively

Without the discretionary tax cuts and expenditure changes, the budget surplus in 2007-08 would have been about $20 billion or about 2 per cent of GDP thanks to the strong growth in tax revenue.

There was no way the Government was going to create the perception that there was all this money available to the Opposition to spend if it won the Treasury benches later this year.

The budget surplus has been generated out of the growth in employment and profits flowing from the resources boom and the very high tax burden imposed by the Howard Government. History shows that resources booms usually end suddenly.

Government spending on health and education has been cut back in favour of private provision, which together with the growing tax burden, has shifted the debt burden from government to households.

The extent of the tax burden has been disguised by falsely claiming the GST (which replaced the Commonwealth wholesale sales tax) is a state tax. When this tax, which now collects some $40 billion a year, is added back into revenue, federal taxes account for 25 per cent of GDP compared with 22.3 per cent of GDP in 1996, when the ALP last occupied the Treasury benches, and 23.2 per cent of GDP in 1999, when wholesale sales tax was last collected.

The amount is not trivial. It is equal to about $20 billion a year or $2000 for each taxpayer. The money has been wasted on all-singing, all-dancing defence equipment with only marginal relevance to the war on terror, propping up a relatively inefficient private health insurance system, leasing back buildings at exorbitant rents privatised by the Government and massive tax expenditures on private superannuation, fringe benefits, negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks that may be good politics but can hardly be justified on equity, efficiency or environmental grounds.

This budget has belatedly attempted to reverse some of the damage done when the Coalition abolished Labor's public dental scheme in 1996 costing some $100 million a year and then in the following year introduced the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate, which provided some $600 million a year for private dental insurance available to the rich only.

This budget provides an extra $127 million to government schools, where the need for resources is greatest, and provides an extra $487 million to non-government schools and attacks those who complain about this inequity.

There was a lot of pre-budget publicity about funding for the Melbourne-Brisbane rail link. The budget shows spending in 2007-08 is $169 million for rail and $2.9 billion for roads and, over the four-year forecast period, $340 million for rail and $14 billion for roads, which reflects the Government's real environmental priorities.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Qantas: "Board and Managers should resign"

Senior Qantas managers and board members should resign over their support for the failed private equity takeover of the airline, Qantas maintenance engineers said today.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) federal secretary Steve Purvinas said the airline needed a new leadership team devoted to restoring Qantas' standing as a world's best airline.

"The reason Qantas has flirted with private equity was that 12 senior managers were offered a sweetener of nearly $100 million," Mr Purvinas said.

"The airline has suffered because managers and board members became more focussed on their own hip pockets than the viability of the airline.

"As it struggles to recover from this misadventure, Qantas could do worse than listen to its 37,000 workers rather than the dozen senior executives responsible for this fiasco.

"If they did, the workers would send them a few simple messages:
- there is a big gap between world's best standards and global minimum standards and Qantas should not be compromising its internationally recognised reputation for safety and service.
- dedicated Australian workers have built this airline and the constant off-shoring of jobs is putting these standards at risk
- and that there is no substitute for investing in skilled staff - because they are the ones that will restore the airline's good name

"Hopefully this failure represents the end of the 'quick fix' strategy of managing Qantas and see a new commitment to raising standards."


Howard's IR: still rotten to the core

Last week John Howard crumbled under the pressure of our two year campaign against his IR laws and conceded that they were hurting working families.

Faced with unrelenting evidence and public pressure, Mr Howard admitted that the IR laws have led to an alarming loss of penalty rates, overtime pay, public holiday loadings and other formerly protected award conditions.

Of course, that means every time he told us, in his ad campaign and in person, that penalty rates, overtime and public holidays were protected, he was lying. As taxpayers, we can’t help but wonder, does this mean John Howard will give us our 55 million dollars back?

Sadly, the proposals John Howard offers tinker only around the edges of the IR laws.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Qantas scam fails?

The proposed $11.1 billion "private equity" buyout for Qantas seems to have failed.

The consortium needed to secure 50 per cent of Qantas shares.

The Airline Partners Australia (APA) consortium confirmed tonight they had only secured 46 per cent of the national carrier after a deadline for the takeover offer expired at 7pm.

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon has declined to offer his resignation, saying it was up to the board.

The apparent failure (there is always room for more scams) of the much hyped attempt to load Qantas up with debt to pay for the takeover represents a common sense response to a deal the Howard government refused to stop for fear of upsetting the latest spiv breed of merchant bankers they are most keen to represent.

see earlier report

Election fears: Howard starts IR backdown

John Howard / Ray StrangePrime Minister John Howard will today outline formal assurances that workers earning up to $75,000 per year who trade away penalty rates, shift allowances, holiday pay or overtime in AWAs will not be worse off.

He said the changes under a new fairness test would take effect from next week.

"The application of a fairness test will ensure that people aren't worse off," Mr Howard said

Opposition industrial relations spokeswoman and Deputy Leader Julia Gillard said Mr Howard spent every day of the last year defending WorkChoices.

"This is just a short-term political manoeuvre from a desperate, desperate man and the day after the election he will go back to what he truly believes in and that is his WorkChoices laws and their ability to drive the wages and conditions of Australian working families down," Ms Gillard said on ABC radio.

"No one in this country should believe that a re-elected Howard Government will keep any of these changes. Then it will be back to business as usual letting workers get ripped off."

ACTU president Sharan Burrow also believed the plan was more about Mr Howard's job than the jobs of working Australians.

"You can still be dismissed unfairly, the boss can still say: `Sign that contract or you don't get the job' ... There will be no mandate or test of compensation so it could be anything," Ms Burrow said on Sky News.

"There doesn't appear to be any guarantees to us. We have a couple of bodies renamed but no arbitral powers and, of course, no collective bargaining rights.

"So you put it all together and I really think it's a bit of desperation on John Howard's part, because working Australians are so opposed to these laws."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

New Legislation

A Song by Catherine O'Brien and Allan Caswell©Catherine O'Brien and Allan Caswell 2007

freedom of choice with a gun to your head
your right to work hard until you drop dead
or we'll get some other fool in here instead
'cos we got this new legislation

the secretary's future doesn't look great
the boss says she showed up for work an hour late
besides she refused to go out on a date
and he's got this new legislation

the 4th year apprentice he's done well at tafe
he's worked real hard to make his future safe
but we've got to downsize son so you're on your way
cos we got this new legislation

your union card won't do you favours round here
cos we've smelt your breath and we think we smelt beer
and if you discuss it son you're outa here
cos we got this new legislation

we wouldn't say darlin' that you're overweight
we think you're lovely your work has been great
but we're all out of uniforms except for size eight
cos we got this new legislation

overtime's over the contract is signed
penalty rates mate are all in your mind
cos we've got your arse now on our bottom line
cos we got this new legislation

your right to life's over as soon as you're born
24 seven we've got you on call
your time's now our time that's no crime at all
cos we got this new legislation

what we said last year mate we can't recall
and that mutual agreement wasn't mutual at all
cos we made the small print incredibly small
and we got this new legislation

Many thanks to Cathie O'Brien and Allan Caswell for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection.

Cathie and Allan met up one evening to write a song about the WorkChoices laws passed by the then John Howard Australian Government and its repercussions on the average worker.

They wrote the song from a social justice and Human Rights perspective.

Visit Cathie's website at:

Visit Allan's website at:

The independently-produced single is now on iTunes at the cost of $A1.69.

Help with the success of this song by downloading your own copy from

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Get real on AWAs - says WA's largest union

It seems the mining industry is now championing John Howard’s unfair Workchoices on the pretext of needing flexibility to continue their booming profits” says Sue Lines Assistant Secretary of the WA LHMU, the largest union in Western Australia.

" Lets get real about AWAs. In industries such as childcare, hospitality and cleaning, they've been used by employers to lower rates of pay, strip away penalty rates and give no certainty on working hours or ongoing employment," Sue Lines said.

Tell big business lobbyists today: We must have fairness too!
Politicians and media are claiming that West Australians - because of the resources boom - support AWAs, but West Australia's biggest union says there is little evidence for these claims.

" When workers in WA apply for jobs in childcare, hospitality or cleaning, they're not given a choice, its sign or go somewhere else for a job.

" Permanent employment, stability of work and fair conditions is now a thing of the past under John Howard's Workchoices for many in these industries.


Big business: bigger noise

Over the past few days big business has mobilised to an extraordinary extent to rubbish Labor's IR policy. John Howard gave Dracula the keys to the blood bank, and surprise surprise, Dracula doesn't like it when they could be taken away.

Let's take a moment to go through the characters who are jumping up to protest against the restoration of fairness and balance in the workplace.

First, there is the Business Council of Australia, the champion of AWA individual contracts. BCA President Michael Chaney is renowned for having once said that fairness has no role in IR policy. He, of course, is not feeling the pinch of "WorkChoices," having earned more than $6 million dollars a year since 1998. That's $115,000 a week.

Another vocal critic is Peter Hendy from the ACCI. Mr Hendy was a senior adviser to former Liberal IR minister Peter Reith, so "WorkChoices" is his baby. He has vowed to throw millions of dollars into an advertising campaign supporting his friend and confidante John Howard.

Then there is BHP Billiton boss Chip Goodyear, who has stated that Labor's IR policy is a step backwards for business. He earns more than $6.5 million a year. Retiring Rio Tinto boss Leigh Clifford, who has pocketed between 4 and $6 million a year for the past decade, also put in his two cents.

Tell big business to come off it. Fairness and rights at work must play a part in IR policy. Sign the petition now.