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Issue No. 163 29 November 2002  

Lessons from History
History has a seemingly infinite capacity to create and debunk myths, as the latest offering from the Journal of Labour and Social History shows.


Interview: Trade Secrets
Federal Labor�s trade spokesman Craig Emerson is on a mission to bring the shady world of trade talks into the open

Industrial: It�s About Overtime, Stupid
An overtime free-for-all is at the heart of Australia�s hours explosion and it's time to look at a cap on hours, reports Noel Hester from the ACTU�s Working Hours Summit.

Unions: Full Steam Ahead
After two weeks of rallies around the state, rural Rail Towns are making a stand for jobs and safety. Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: The BBQ Battle Axe
Manly restaurateur, David Diamond, is a shoo-in for this month�s Bad Boss nomination, leaving Workers Online looking for a good employer who can undo some of his damage.

Economics: Different Dimensions of Debt
Professor Frank Stilwell presented the big picture on debt policy at the Evatt Foundation�s Breakfast Seminar

History: Raking the Coals
Labour historians Rae Cooper and Greg Patmore explain why today�s organisers have much to learn from the lessons of the past.

History Special: Wherever the Necessity Exists
Rae Cooper tracks NSW union organising between 1900-1910 to argue that today�s activists should be looking closer to home for inspiration

History Special: Learning from the Past
Ray Markey looks at union membership growth in the 1880s & 1900s to argue that today�s unions must engage to grow.

History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Barbara Webster looks at Rockhampton between 1916 � 1957 to debunk the �dependence� theory of trade union growth.

Politics: Regime Change for Saddam
Labour lawyer Jim Nolan looks at the challenge for the Left in the current geopolitical stand-off in the Middle East.

International: World War
Europe has suddenly come aflame with industrial action, Andrew Casey reports.

Corporate: Industrious Thinking
Neale Towart looks at the influence of German immigration on Australian industry policy in the post-war period.

Review: Jack High
Mick Molloy�s new flick Crackerjack tells the tale of a traditional bowling club struggling to stay afloat in an industry dominated by pokies, pokies and more pokies, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Culture: Duffy�s Song
Former Labor Council official Mark Duffy�s Sydney super band Sundial clocks in a bit of a corker.

Satire: A Nation of Sooks
The Strewth Institute's Tony Moore looks at the spate of defo suits and wonders if Australia has gone soft.

Poetry: Mr Flexibility
One of the key challenges facing unions, as the ACTU celebrates its 75th anniversary, is confronting the problems of increasing working hours and work intensity under the guise of "flexibility". Our resident bard, David Peetz, takes up that theme this week.


 And On the Seventh Day � Satan Joins Union

 Security Masks Political Bans

 Members Offered Spotters' Fee

 Casuals Written Out of the Script

 New Mining Bully On the Block

 ACTU Examines The Cap Option On Hours

 No Sweetener for Diabetic Workers

 Pressure Goes on Apartheid Employers

 ASIC Turns Blind Eye on Dodgy Boss

 Family Test Case a Priority Campaign

 Echoes of Prestige Hit Home

 Brutal Bashing Sparks Prison Strike

 Minister Challenged by Cleaners

 ABC Journos Off The Air

 Union Says RSCPA "Kills"...

 Guards Demand Campus Security

 Uni Backs Down On Regional Review

 Peace Returns to US Docks

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Economic Migrants
A man - a worker - risks death by machine gun to escape what he is told is a 'workers' state'. He flees East Berlin through a tunnel, dug beneath a cemetery.

And the Winner Is �
It�s that time of the year when we honour the best. In the past week, both the IR Writers fraternity and ACTU have got in the act with more to come.

The Locker Room
More Post-Colonial Madness
Phil Doyle joins the fools and Englishmen out in the midday sun, and finds that it all comes at a price.

Call Waiting
The Howard Government backs off its plans to privatise the rest of Telstra under market pressure. But it�s nothing like the pressure that former HIH directors are under.

Month In Review
Way Down
As Elvis might have said, if he had had a longer-term perspective �ooh, what a month it was, it really was such a month ��

 Oh Bugger Me!
 State Based Organising
 Gino on the Gong
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New Mining Bully On the Block

One of Australia's biggest and fastest-growing coal mining companies, Xstrata, has been warned it faces a concerted campaign of action unless it abandons an aggressive anti-union industrial relations strategy.

Xstrata is a Swiss-based multinational with extensive mining interests in South Africa and South America currently attempting to take over MIM - a move that would make it our third largest miner behind BHP-Billition and Rio Tinto.

Winners are grinners: Trevor Hyde (left) and John O'Dwyer (right) with Broken Hill CFMEU leader, Eddie Butcher days after the victory. Picture by Gavin Schmidt courtesy of the Barrier Industrial Truth.

Delegates from all Xstrata's operations throughout NSW and Queensland met in Cessnock this week and unanimously endorsed a comprehensive campaign, including industrial action, if the company continues to renege on existing agreements at its operations and pursues the victimisation of union activists.

Miners Union General President Tony Maher warned that Xstrata faces the full force of the union movement "here in Australia and overseas unless it changes course".

" Xstrata is no longer a private company. It is a publicly listed global mining player. We will be letting its shareholders know what is going on and the stakes involved. Indeed, unless the company reverts to its previous course of respecting workers rights and agreements it will face a concerted industrial, corporate, legal and international campaign", warned Tony Maher.

Mr Maher said he hoped it did not come to this. "Following today's delegates meeting, we are seeking an urgent meeting with Xstrata's most senior management. The ball's in their court and we hope they don't take the same failed path of confrontation that others in the coal industry pursued for the past few years", said Tony Maher.

Broken Hill Workers Beat 'Callous' Boss

Meanwhile, two Broken Hill miners have received $110,000 from mining giant Pasminco after being denied retrenchment rights because they were on sick leave when it solds its mine.

Broken Hill-based CFMEU NSW South/West District Vice-President Eddie Butcher condemned the move to sack the two miners who were recovering on compensation as "incredibly callous" and "blatant discrimination

On 21 November, the Industrial Commission ordered that John O'Dwyer and Trevor Hyde be reinstated making them eligible for the $110,000 redundancy payments they were entitled to.

For John and Trevor it was a wonderful early Christmas present and they told the Miner's Union journal Common Cause "it is another 110,000 reasons why it pays to belong to the Union".

"We could not have done this without the CFMEU. Our case is absolute proof of the value of unions to the whole of Australia", they said.

John and Trevor said that while they have been strong Union members all their working lives, they had never realised just how much work and dedication goes on behind the scenes to look after the interests of union members.

The company rolled out the big legal guns and was represented by big city law firm Blake Dawson Waldron. They had three solicitors on the case including a partner of the firm. It's been estimated that it would have cost the company between $40,000-$50,000 in legal fees in its failed attempt to deny the injured mineworkers their $110,000 in entitlements.

"There were five hearing days involved in the case and there it no way we could have afforded to fight it on our own", John and Trevor told Common Cause. "Without the Union, we were gone".

In his determination of the case, Commission Deputy-President Sams described Pasminco's sacking of the injured mineworkers as "cruel and heartless".

John O'Dwyer and Trevor Hyde are both family men who had 30 years of experience between them in the mine. Both have dependent children and are still physically incapacitated as a result of the injuries they suffered in separate accidents in the mine.


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