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Issue No. 167 21 February 2003  

Scales of Injustice
The Cole Royal Commissionís final report will be handed to the Howard Government this week, although its public release will be strategically delayed for maximum political capital.


Interview: Agenda 2003
ACTU secretary Greg Combet looks at the year ahead and how a union movement can keep the focus on the workplace at a time of global crisis.

Peace: The Colour Purple
Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.

Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
As Workers Online took its annual break, the world kept turning Ė at an increasingly alarming velocity.

Solidarity: Workers Against War
Joann Wypijewski reports on how union locals in the USA are fighting the hounds of war at home.

Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
With all the talk of terror, the Howard Governmentís Achilles heel is its tolerance of Flags of Convenience shipping , writes Rowan Cahill

International: Industrial Warfare
Scottish freight train drivers have already acted to disrupt the war effort in the UK with crews of four freight trains carrying war supplies to ports walking off the job, writes Andrew Casey

History: Unions and the Vietnam War
The Vietnam experience steered some unions towards social activism for the first time. Unions are today key players in the anti-war movement, writes Tony Duras.

Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Mark Hebblewhites looks at two summer movies that tap into different sounds of American culture - white boy rap and motown blues.

Poetry: Return To Sender
Resident bard Divd Peetz discovers that Elvis has become the latest shock recruit to the peace cause.

Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
CIA Director George Tenet announced today that the agency has begun recruiting future enemies for the year 2014.


 Cole Commission: The Rort Goes On

 Penalty Rates Under Attack

 Abbott Brushes Ripped Off Aussies

 Overworked Seamanís Painful Hangover

 Australia Snubs International Body

 Women Attracted to Unions

 Murdoch Hacks Dropping Like Flies

 Peace is Union Business

 Qantas Takes Big Stick to Cabin Crew

 Sheltered Workshop in Orange Squeeze

 Carr Govt Commits $13m To Safety

 Monk Puts IR in Test Tube

 Concreters Bury Six-Day Week

 Graincorp Boss in Cyber War

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Getting On with The Job
Premier Bob Carr chose Trades Hall as the venue to launch Labor's IR policy for the upcoming state election.

Justice in Bogota
Sydney lawyer Ian Latham knows how to pick them. Heís gone straight from the Cole Royal Commission to justice Colombian-style.

The Locker Room
Heart Of Darkness
There is a school of thought that there is, in fact, only one World Cup - and it doesnít involve cricket, writes Phil Doyle.

Danger Mouse
John Howard's politics have trapped him into supporting an unpopular war. He is in political trouble, Leonie Bronstein argues.

 This Means War
 Who Let The Troops Out?
 Wagga Wagga Calling
 Ode to Johnny
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Cole Commission: The Rort Goes On

CFMEU lawyers are being denied legal aid as the Federal Government lavishes millions on Counsel Assisting the Building Industry Royal Commission.

The Attorney Generalís office has knocked back bills from the three-person legal team that represented around 40 individuals before the Commission, after the unionís NSW branch was denied representation.

The news comes seven days after Senate Estimates revealed that Commission lawyers had carved up $21 million from the public purse.

The Cole Commission doled out million-dollar payments to at least two individuals who led the anti-union crusade. The hauls of John Agius, QC, ($1.489 million); Lionel Robberds, QC, ($1.25 million) and Nicholas Green, QC, (944,000), topped a list of a dozen Commission legal reps who each got more than $500,000 for their efforts.

At the same time, the Federal Attorney General's office is baulking at legal aid accounts, understood to total around $200,000, for lawyers who represented union officials, employees and members.

It is, apparently, prepared to pay only one, rather than three lawyers, for the duration of the second Sydney hearings. It will meet that lawyer's costs at legal aid rates, for eight hours each sitting day, although lawyers often worked double that time.

On some occassions, hearings themselves began at 9am and went through until 8pm. At no stage of the Sydney hearings did the Commission have fewer than 11 legal representatives ranged against the three-person union team.

Senior Counsel representing the Commission pulled down $3800 a day, plus thousands of dollars in expenses. The legal aid rate for solicitors, by comparison, is about $1100 a day.

Taylor and Scott senior partner, David Coleman, accused the Federal Government of "blatant double standards".

"The way it stands all the union representatives will be left out of pocket," he said.

"Senior Counsel Steve Crawshaw is owed a great deal of money, even at much lower rates than Commission Counsel received. Ian Latham is owed money and this company is owed money.

"They have told us they will only meet Counsel's fees for half the Sydney hearings. The solicitor was expected to carry the rest of the workload by himself.

"They paid our first bill but all the rest have been queried.

"Bearing in mind the inequality in representation, this is just ridiculous."

Meanwhile, the Task Force set up as a result of Cole's First Report and headed by Federal policeman Nigel Hadgkiss, has shown its true colours, bringing prosecutions against CFMEU officials in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Task Force has laid two counts against Sydney-based organiser, Joe Brsic, over a stoppage at Sutherland Hospital. The case has already been before the IRC where workers health and safety arguments were vindicated.

Melbourne official, John Setka, is being pursued over his role in the Victorian branch's stand-off with Grocon, also resolved after IRC involvement.

Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, involved himself in the Melbourne wrangle, backing company moves to register a non-union agreement and resist family-friendly provisions signed off on by all other major construction employers in the state.


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