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Issue No. 169 07 March 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Re-considering The Accord
The twentieth anniversary of the Hawke Government’s election provides an opportunity to ponder the Accord’s historical conundrum: how at the moment of the union movement’s greatest influence did it suffer its greatest loss of members?

F E A T U R E S

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Interview: League of Nations
ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder on the war, core labour standards and why Australia is an international pariah.

Industrial: 20/20 Hindsight
A retrospective analysis of the Accord is needed to help develop future strategies. Is it worth trying again? And if so, what would need to be different?

Organising: On The Buses
A new rank and file leadership team is standing up for the harried bus driver in the run-up to the NSW State Election

Unions: National Focus
A gaze around the country reveals some inspiring and innovative organising initiatives, a fruitful connection with young workers in South Australia and some typically robust industrial campaigns reports Noel Hester.

History: The Banner Room
On the eve of it’s refurbishment, Jim Marr ventures into one of Trades Hall’s best kept secrets; the room that houses relics of labour’s halcyon days.

International: The Slaughter Continues
Chilling new statistics from Colombia's main trade union confederation CUT: nine trade unionists assassinated in the first two months of this year.

Legal: A Legal Case For War?
Aaron Magner looks at the legal implications of the crusade of the Coalition of the Willing

Culture: Singing For The People
When there’s a struggle for social justice, when a war is brewing or rights are being eroded, the first ones to pen, paper and protest are often the folkwriters.

Review: The Hours
On the eve of International Women’s Day Tara de Boehmler follows the tale of three women who would rather choose death than a life devoid of personal choice.

Poetry: I Wanna Bomb Saddam
Scarier than Star Wars, the latest weapon to be deployed in the battle for Iraq is the Singing Dubya.

Satire: Diuretic Makes Warne's Excuses Look Thin
Australian cricketer Shane Warne today admitted that he was still feeling the after effects of the diuretic he tested positive to.

N E W S

 Sacre Bleu – It’s “La Gong” Now

 Mum Raises Labour Hire Bar

 Investigate the Buggers

 NSW Libs Madder Than The Monk

 Kits Strike Terror into Govt

 West Braces for Shelling

 Executive Pay Under Senate Spotlight

 Clean Energy’s Jobs Bonus

 Zoo Workers Buck ‘Mercy Killing’

 Canberra Firefighters Win Union Backing

 Global Equity Under Spotlight

 Aussie Workers Fight Indian Child Labour

 Water on the Brain

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Workers Friend
Shock jock Alan Jones snubbed his Liberal mates to bucket the Cole Royal Commission and launch Jim Marr's book

The Locker Room
Boer Bore Boring
In the face of oppression Phil Doyle falls asleep in front of the TV

Guest Report
Dead Labor
The Hawke and Keating legacy is John Howard, Leonie Bronstein argues.

Seduction
Hands Off, Tony
John Della Bosca argues the NSW Industrial Relations System gives his State a competitive advantage.

Bosswatch
Groundhog Day
Another year, another round of corporate excess. Bosswatch returns from its summer slumber to find the same old dogs up to the same tricks.

L E T T E R S
 Re - Core/Non Core promises.
 Strangers in the House
 Nursing Home Concerns
 Catholic Tastes
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Mum Raises Labour Hire Bar


A young Sydney mother who stood up to corporate heavyweight, Theiss, has won important breakthroughs for pregnant women and casuals.

Oanh Nguyen was celebrating IRC vindication this week with baby son, Jaidyn, after Commissioner Donna McKenna ruled she had been unjustifiably dismissed from her casual processing job at Chullora and awarded her $10,000 in compensation.

"It's not the money, most of that will go in legal fees," she told Workers Online. "This decision is saying that if you are pregnant, you still have the right to work. It doesn't matter if you are casual or permanent and it doesn't matter if you are employed by the company or an agent, you have rights they can't take away.

"It means other people should be treated better in the future. I think it's important""

Her analysis of the decision's signficance was endorsed by union and employer reps, as well as industrial lawyers.

Labor Council assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou honed in on company attempts to wash their hands of Nguyen because she had been on the books of labour hire outfit, ANT, which in turn told the Commission she hadn't been dismissed, they just had no work to offer her.

Christodoulou said that sort of attitude was "too common" in labour hire arrangments.

"Companies often try to hide behind labour hire entities to avoid their responsibilities but this decision strips away much of that defence - anti-discrimination, victimisation and health and safety rights were all elements of this case," he said.

Prominent industrial lawyer Steven Penning of Turner Freeman Solicitors, who ran Nguyen's case, also said it was a landmark labour hire ruling. It was, he said, the first Commission unfair dismissal decision that decided the host employer was the "real and effective" employer.

He said it had "big implications" for labour hire and challenged employers to launch an appeal.

"We would welcome an appeal," Penning said. "Host employers have had open slather for a long time and that is challenged by a decision that is both strong and well-reasoned. I think it would be endorsed by a full bench and that would give it even stronger authority."

Peter Rochfort, who represented Theiss, conceded the implications were "mammoth".

Ms McKenna found Theiss was liable because if had effective control over Nguyen's recruitment, employment and termination. She ordered it to pay the compensation.

In her judgement she referred to the "husk" of an employment relationship with ANT.

Another key element in the case was the 23-year-old's long history of union activism and the evident dislike this had created with a supervisor. The longest-serving casual at the recycling plant had been a delegate and safety committee secretary. She had fought and won a previous unfair dismissal case.

"I was not one of their favourite people because I had taken up a few health and safety issues," she conceded.

Ms McKenna said Nguyen's "industrial activism" and the fact that Theiss management were not "particularly well-disposed" towards her formed part of the backdrop. She found Nguyen's pregnancy had been the "catalyst" for her removal from duties at Chullora.


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