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States to challenge new IR changes -

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(generated from captions) Alright. Jane Hutcheon, thanks

very much, indeed.

The States say they will challenge proposed new industrial relations laws in the High Court after failing to make headway in a meeting with the Federal Workplace Relations Minister. Their demand that Kevin Andrews sign a guarantee pledging that no worker will be worse off

fell on deaf ears. From Melbourne, Nicole Chvastek reports. There was little sense of reconciliation as State industrial relations ministers and representatives from around Australia gathered for their council of war in Melbourne. Well look this is D-day. This is D-day for Kevin Andrews. They emerged demanding the Federal Workplace Relations Minister sign a guarantee that no worker would be worse off under the planned changes and predicting some workers could lose up to a third of their income. We also have a texta for Mr Andrews to sign. And all he has to do is put his signature right there

and that will end the confusion. That will end the trauma that's taking place. Will you sign it?

What I can say and what the Prime Minister's been saying and that is, that under our proposed reforms the take-home pay and the living standards of Australians will not be reduced. The Commonwealth has got this wrong politically as well. This will cost them government, but that won't be enough time to save the workers and their families. John Howard's plan is to pick the pockets of working families and my message to John Howard is - get your hands out of the pockets of working families. Kevin Andrews was also facing pressure on another front. Workers from his own department are striking in Melbourne, but also in Sydney, and here in Canberra. They say the Minister is insisting on workplace agreements which exclude workers from access to the Industrial Relations Commission. Hypocrisy. Mr Andrews is a hypocrite. Mr Andrews is heading up a department which won't give employees choice. The guarantee that I'm giving to the Australian people is that if we don't make some sensible changes then we will not be able to sustain our standard of living into the future. Late this afternoon, the combatants finally met. There were handshakes, but no concessions and no agreement.

A very disappointing meeting. I

feel quit sorry for Kevin Andrews.

He wasn't on top of the detail of

this legislation. He wasn't able to

give any assurances to Australian

workers that they wouldn't be worse

off. But quit obviously, he's not

off. But quit obviously, he's not on top of the legislation and it's

quite clearly John Howard that's

really pulling the strings.

REPORTER: Some ministers are

REPORTER: Some ministers are saying you're not on top of the issue,

you're not on top of the issue, that Mr Howard is the one pulling the

strings and you're not fully

briefed. Can I say I'm driving the

draft of this legislation. This is

information I'm dealing with every

day. You'd expect that silly

day. You'd expect that silly comment to come from the states. The High

Court challenge should follow soon after.