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Issue No. 167 21 February 2003  

Scales of Injustice
The Cole Royal Commission’s 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 – 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 Government’s 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 Seaman’s 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. He’s 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 doesn’t 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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Abbott Brushes Ripped Off Aussies

Tony Abbott’s Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is washing its hands of workers who have been ripped off by less than $10,000.

The policy, revealed in a paper released by the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, means rogue employers can help themselves to up to $10,000 worth of workers money without fear of departmental prosecution.

CFMEU national secretary John Sutton is calling for a Senate Inquiry into the department's failure to uphold the law.

"Ten thousand dollars may not seem like a lot to Tony Abbott and his departmental heads, but it is a lot of money for workers and their families," Sutton said.

Sutton said even the Royal Commission had conceded that the policy meant the department would not follow through on the majority of workplace rip-offs.

The policy covers the Federal Department and all states and territories to which the Federal Government has contracted out its enforcement role. It comes at a time when Abbott is pushing for a single workplace relations system across the country.

The Commission further highlighted the lack of Commonwealth interest in defending workers rights, pointing out that the Federal Department had prosecuted only two people for breaches of federal awards or agreements across all industries since 1996, while the NSW Department of Industrial Relations had proscecuted 866 breaches of workplace laws during 2001 and 2002 alone.

"At a time when the federal Minister is putting up legislation for tougher penalties against unions for breaching the Workplace relations Act, his own department has a policy of not enforcing existing law when employers are in breach," Sutton said.

As Sutton was speaking, 60 CFMEU picketers took matters into their own hands and were successful in extracting nearly $90,000 in owed wages, super and entitlements from contractor Adco.

Thirty workers employed on demolition work at Westmead Hospital hadn't been paid for nearly three weeks. Their employer, Acorp Demolition, said it didn't have the money, because although the job had been finished, it hadn't been paid by Adco.

Picket numbers were boosted by other building workers, and several demolition companies pitched in with material support, before Adco came to the party.


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