Simon Butler, Newcastle
The Newcastle City Council motion passed in late July to stop companies who force their employees onto Australia Workplace Agreements (AWAs) from receiving council contracts, has come under fire from local business groups, the Fairfax-owned Newcastle Herald and PM John Howard.
After investigating the legal ramifications of the decision, the council will call on other local government bodies to follow their lead. The council is being supported by local Trades and Labor Council secretary Gary Kennedy and the ALP federal member for Newcastle, Sharon Grierson.
The motion also committed the council to supporting campaigns by the ACTU, Unions NSW and the Newcastle TLC against the federal government's proposed industrial relations legislation.
The Newcastle Herald went on the attack in an August 25 editorial claiming, "The council's primary roles are to set the rates, fix the roads and collect the garbage... [not] wasting time on actions like these". Kennedy responded in the August 26 Herald: "I don't think it's inappropriate that the council is taking a stand on behalf of the workers of Newcastle. Business people are not the only ratepayers; workers are too."
From Green Left Weekly, August 31, 2005.
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